The Virginian Pilot is reporting a current Eastern Shore Community College employee was convicted Wednesday of three counts of felony embezzlement for using a city credit card to send packages to a girlfriend in the Philippines.
Brian Scott Hall, 57, pleaded not guilty to the charges but did not contest the state’s evidence against him.
Defense attorney Stephen Pfeiffer asked Circuit Judge Steven Frucci to instead find his client guilty of misdemeanor embezzlement charges. Pfeiffer pointed to Hall’s cooperation in the case and his immediate repayment of the $4,100 it cost to send the nearly two dozen packages as reasons to consider the lesser charges.
Frucci said while Hall deserved credit for quickly admitting his wrongdoing and paying the city back, he agreed with prosecutor Mario Lorello that Hall’s violation of the public’s trust was concerning.
According to a summary of the evidence, the city became aware of the illegal charges after an audit of the Economic Development Office showed its shipping expenditures were 180% over budget.
An investigation revealed that Hall, who often traveled to the Philippines for city economic development business, had used his city-issued credit card to pay for the shipments. A total of 23 packages were sent during a two-year period.
When confronted, Hall admitted to the illegal transactions and resigned. Pfeiffer said his client used the city account because he was trying to conceal the shipments from his wife, from whom he was estranged at the time.
“It was inappropriate, it was wrongful and he has owned up to it,” the defense lawyer said.
Hall apologized to the court and to the citizens of Virginia Beach. “This has been a tough lesson in humility,” he said.
Hall was unemployed for more than a year afterward, his attorney said. He now works at Eastern Shore Community College, where he helps students and community members in need of assistance, Pfeiffer said.
“I feel like where I’m at now is where I’m supposed to be,” Hall told the judge. “I’m in a position now to be able to help people. This experience has helped me be much more in tune with what they’ve been going through.”
“When I hired Scott, I felt that he was the best person for the job and he has done everything to demonstrate that he is the best person for our workforce position,” said ESCC President Dr. Jim Shaeffer. “I know that he is relieved to have this behind him. Over the last 18 months Scott has served ESCC and the Eastern Shore extremely well in the area of work force development. He’s been an excellent hire and a valuable contribution to our college and community.”