August 4, 2021

Commonwealth v. Warren D. Harris; Former Director of Economic Development Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Virginia Beach, Va. – Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Warren D. Harris, age 64, formerly the director of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, pled guilty today in Circuit Court to four (4) counts of Embezzlement by a Public Officer. Harris will be formally sentenced by Judge Steven Frucci on November 30, 2021.

Had this case gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence would have proven that Harris used public funds for personal use during the course of his tenure as director of the Department of Economic Development for the City of Virginia Beach between 2007 and 2018. The total amount of fraudulent expenditures was approximately $79,479.50.

In 2018, the City Auditor conducted the initial investigation into the Economic Development Department, and uncovered that Harris had been fraudulently utilizing city funds to facilitate personal travel to locations all over the world, including Dubai, Panama, Spain, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Illinois. The audit further revealed that the Harris utilized city funds to place advertisements in sports publications such as the NCAA Final Four official program. The placement of the advertisements brought with them tickets to sporting events, which were city property that Harris improperly used for personal purposes. The City Auditor turned its information over to the Virginia Beach Police Department and the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, which began a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorneys Mario Lorello and Brandon Emery prosecuted this case. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.

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