He didn't come right out and admit that he'd done wrong. But last Tuesday, May 9, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Chantilly's James Robert "Bob" McClendon Jr. entered an Alford plea of guilt.
By doing so, he acknowledged that enough evidence exists to convict him of the charge with which he's accused — embezzlement. And in fact, in Loudoun County Circuit Court in January, he was given a suspended, six-year prison sentence in connection with the same crime.
MCCLENDON, 50, of the Sutton Oaks community, defrauded a Centreville man out of a quarter of a million dollars. And Loudoun Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne ordered him to repay the debt in full, plus interest. He also directed 55 percent of McClendon's gross annual income be garnished to make sure he does it.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office arrested him in October 2004, charging him with forging signatures on three, separate promissory notes to receive money from a Loudoun business. And as it turned out, his scheme worked.
McClendon's actions got him $250,000 from the Centreville man who owned that business. They also helped demolish plans for a much- needed field house to have been built in Chantilly in a public/private partnership agreement with the Fairfax County Park Authority.
And on June 13, 2005, Fairfax County police also arrested McClendon, charging him with two counts of embezzlement and two counts of fraudulent accounting. Three of the charges were later dropped and, on March 20, the grand jury indicted him on one count of embezzlement.
Then last week in Circuit Court, he entered his plea. Before accepting it, however, Judge M. Langhorne Keith asked him if he was making an Alford plea, freely and voluntarily, and because he knew that the Commonwealth could convict him of embezzlement. McClendon replied affirmatively.
"The Commonwealth has agreed that you'll be sentenced within the [state sentencing] guidelines," said Keith. "But you understand that I can wait until I receive the pre-sentencing report to decide if I'll accept that."
The judge then told McClendon: "On your Alford plea of guilty, the court finds you guilty of embezzlement, as charged in the indictment." He set sentencing for Sept. 22 and allowed McClendon to remain free on bond until then, provided he cooperates with the probation officer in the preparation of his pre-sentencing report.