Credit the organizers of this week’s Arlington county fair for tackling head-on the embarrassing issue of last year’s embezzlement of proceeds by a staffer.
Back in April, county fair chairperson Tiffany Kudravetz put out a press release acknowledging the unavoidable impact of the crime on what all recognize as a joyous endeavor. That same month, with scant notice in the press, Denise Marshall Roller, a veteran fair liaison for the county, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, all suspended for five years with five years active probation, according to Arlington Circuit Court records.
Having pleaded guilty in January to 11 counts of fraud and embezzlement, Roller was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Arlington County Fair Inc.
“Roller’s misconduct has meant changes for the fair, including rebuilding relationships with vendors, sponsors, and even the county,” Kudravetz said in a statement. “It has also meant the loss of important funds” used for the annual event.
Given that the 34-year-old fair is run by a volunteer board, Roller’s conduct was doubly sad, though authorities appear to have handled it well.
Roller, a 48-year-old Fredericksburg resident at the time of her misdeeds, had worked on the fair since 2005 under a memorandum of understanding with the fair’s nonprofit organization. She had previously worked on the Taste of Arlington event in Ballston, and she was once heardreassuring fair patrons worried about injuries from a scary ride that she employed “a very competent midway provider.”
According to fine reporting last year by ARLNow.com, Roller resigned from the Arlington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department after board members suspected she had deposited nearly $12,000 of checks intended for the fair into an unauthorized bank account. Fair planners informed her county supervisor, who alerted police.
When confronted by colleagues, police said, Roller initially claimed she had set up a personal account at a local bank and mistakenly deposited a county fair check into it. Court documents show she submitted forged bylaws to the bank, which reportedly allowed her to open an account in the fair’s name. She withdrew chunks of the money for personal use during a three-month period, according to prosecutors.
County manager Barbara Donnellan said the fair—which is big business, attracting as many as 50,000 thrill-seekers over four days—was never in trouble and that authorities acted quickly.
The fair’s chairperson assured me everything is going well.
All of which is by way of saying, let’s show some appreciation for the fair team’s rapid response and turn out for yet another good time. The theme for the Aug. 8-12, 2012, event is an ode to sustainability, “Live Green, Learn Green.”
Set to appear at the familiar grounds at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center on South Second Street are the Harlem Wizards, the U.S. Army Brass Quintet and performers from the Synetic Theater. Add to that bill of fare a magician, local musicians and the showing of a Muppets movie.
Then toss in the regular cloggers and barbershop vocalists performing indoors alongside the exhibits from all walks of public and private Arlington community life. Mix in the outdoor amusements, pony rides, pig races and the characteristic United Nations of scrumptious food (of varying healthiness). Then blend in some marquee-name sponsors — Comcast, Dominion Power, Virginia Hospital Center, for starters. Shake well.
See you there.
Charlie Clark may be e-mailed at [email protected]