Former Virginia Beach Economic Development Director to pay nearly $ 80,000 after pleading guilty to embezzlement

Investigators say he used city funds to pay for travel around the world and secure tickets to sporting events.

Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) – A former director of economic development for Virginia Beach has been convicted after pleading guilty to embezzlement.

Back in August 2021, 64-year-old Warren Harris pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzlement by government officials. Harris back in 2019 he was charged with 14 counts of embezzlement.

On Monday, a district court judge, Fruci, sentenced Harris to eight years in prison, all of which were suspended. However, Harris has to return to the city a full $ 79,479.50.

The Virginia Beach Attorney’s Office Colin Stola said Harris had misused public funds in the final years of his time as Virginia Beach’s director of economic development from 2007 to 2018.

“Proper economic development is vital for the city,” Stole said. “Sir. Harris has used lies and deception to betray the trust of the City, his ruler and, most importantly, the citizens of Virginia Beach. This broken trust is serious and needs to be restored.”

The stipulation of facts the case shows that Harris has spent thousands of city funds on personal trips around the world, including Dubai, Panama, Spain, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Illinois.

An investigation by an auditor from the city of Virginia Beach also found that Harris used $ 39,000 of city funds to advertise in sports publications, such as the official program of the four NCAA Final Four, which brought him tickets to sporting events.

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