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spectr17
09-25-2007, 10:11 PM
Former Virginia Director & 2 Wardens Indicted

Media Wire

9/25/07

Nearly three years ago, the Commonwealth of Virginia was rocked by a scandal involving then director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and two of his former wardens.

Former Director William L. Woodfin, Jr. and former game wardens Michael G. Caison and Terry C. Bradberry have now been indicted by multi-jurisdictional grand jury for their alleged misuse of state funds to buy supplies for a 2004 African safari.

Each man is facing a pair of charges and each is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. According to a spokesman for the attorney general's office, all the charges are related to the charges made on state credit cards for the 2004 African trip.

The story started to break in 2005 after an audit criticized the men for $11,532 in purchases for a two-week safari they took with then-board Chairman Dan Hoffler. The Virginia Beach developer resigned his post after the audit; eventually reimbursing the state for all the charges associated with the trip.

But the audit seriously tarnished the reputation of the Department, charging the agency was "rife" with cronyism, waste and misuse of state property.

The furor grew to the point that Woodfin, a 35-year state employee, retired in June of 2005. Bradbery and Casion both retired the following year - after taking extended leave.

These indictments end a long quiet period in the scandal that has persisted since the agency was turned over to law enforcement officials in 2005. According to the indictment, the misuse of state funds began in September 2003 and continued through October 31, 2004. During that time, the audit documented an array of charges either made directly or approved by Caison, Woodfin and Bradberry.

The case against Woodfin is an excellent example of a state resident seeing problems in government and refusing to simply let them slide. Complaints from Navy retiree Lee Albright to the Virginia State Employee Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline in late 2004 led to the initial investigation, and was spurred forward when Virginia news outlets began investigating the story as well. With the announcement of the indictments, Albright says he sees it as a "good day for the game department" although he has no personal satisfaction in seeing the trio indicted. He says it is a big step in "removing a black cloud" from the department.

And he's correct. Since the entire controversy started, the many hard working game wardens and administrators have labored under suspicion and continuous scrutiny. Fortunately, it seems, the decision to place former State Police Superintendent W. Gerald Massengill as interim director after Woodfin's departure did a lot to assuage many of the internal tensions. Repairing the external damage, however, has been more difficult.

As a result of this ongoing investigation, it appears Virginia law may be changed to tighten the laws on spending by government officials. Had the law been broader, prosecutors say they would have field additional charges against the men.

Attorneys say the three will fight all charges brought against them and as always, we'll keep you posted.