On November 8, after a two-day trial, a Loudoun County Circuit Court jury took roughly an hour to find Middleburg Eccentric co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Dee Dee Hubbard innocent of all charges filed against her.
Investigation of the case had gone on for well over a year, starting well before and after Hubbard’s highly publicized midday arrest and perp walk down Federal Street in Middleburg on November 30th of last year.
In the end the investigation touched Middleburg Bank, the Middleburg Eccentric, the Town of Middleburg, its former police chief, the Virginia State Police, the Middleburg Business and Professional Association, the nonprofit Christmas in Middleburg organization, charity events designed to raise funds for disabled veterans, the victims of the Indonesian Tsunami, and victims of the earthquake in Haiti, town officials, employees and staff, and every adult member of the Hubbard family.
Documents emerged showing that the Goehrings had insisted to police and prosecutors that sums totaling as much as $140,000, or more, were at stake.
In the end, after warning the Goehrings that it could not be drawn into even the appearance of giving legal advice to further a plaintiff’s case in a civil dispute, the Commonwealth settled on a much smaller case: accusing Hubbard of deliberately misdepositing checks on six occasions in an attempt to steal roughly $9,000.
Hubbard never disputed that the checks were misdeposited, insisting that she had done so by accident and had made good every penny in dispute.
The jury apparently agreed, finding Hubbard innocent after seeing and hearing evidence that she had not only made no attempt to steal money from the Goehrings, but had actually paid back more than she was accused of stealing.
“Unhinged and Obsessed”
Defense attorney Edward MacMahon of Middleburg had long described the accusations against Hubbard as “baseless” and “malicious.”
In his summation to the jury he insisted that the evidence actually demonstrated something far worse: that one or more of the Goehrings had set out to threaten, pressure and humiliate not only Hubbard, but her entire family, in an effort to force her to come to terms about disputed rents, wages, and other matters more appropriately addressed in a civil court.
In the process, he said, they had slandered not only Dee Dee Hubbard and her family, but one of Goehring’s best friends and partners.
The Goehrings, MacMahon said, were “unhinged and obsessed.”
Risk and Ridicule
With the help of the police, MacMahon asserted, Jack Goehring had conspired to make sure that pictures of Dee Dee Hubbard’s arrest and perp walk down Middleburg’s Federal Street received as much publicity as possible.
The police, he said, had falsely claimed that Hubbard was arrested, cuffed, and paraded in that way “for her own safety.”
In fact, he insisted, the opposite was true.
By giving notice to her accuser, Jack Goehring, and through him to others, the police had not only acted improperly, but had “put Hubbard, the officers involved in her arrest, and the people of Middleburg at risk and subject to ridicule.”
The Hubbard trial opened on Monday morning, November 7, 2011, in Courtroom 2-C, Loudoun County Circuit Court, Judge J. H. Chamblin, presiding.
Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephen Sincavage opened with an announcement that, with the agreement of defense attorney Edward MacMahon and his client, the charges against Hubbard had been redefined, from 14 counts to only 6 counts of embezzlement of a sum in excess of $200, one for each of six deposit slips presented to Middleburg Bank between September 24, 2008 and December 24, 2009. The total amount in question still amounted to just over $9,000.
Judge Chamblin asked Hubbard if she understood the charges against her; that “reasonable doubt” did not mean “without any doubt;” and that, if she elected to stand trial and was convicted, each count carried a maximum penalty of up to twenty years in jail.
Hubbard did not hesitate, declared her innocence, and jury selection began. Twelve jurors and two alternates, selected from a pool of 30, heard the case.
At 1:35 PM on November 7, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Sincavage opened for the State. He would prove, he said that Hubbard had used her position as property manager and bookkeeper for the Goehrings’Piedmont Standards Corpora-tion, to steal some $9,100. She did so, he said, by deliberately misdepositing rent checks into bank accounts she or mem-bers of her family controlled.
At 1:40 MacMahon replied, not-ing that the defense would show there was no evidence whatsoever that Hubbard, a grandmother, newspaper editor and long time head of the Christmas in Middleburg organization, had taken any money from the Goehrings, much less that she had done so with fradulent intent.
Hubbard was not a professional bookkeeper, MacMahon said, and never had been.
Far from conspiring to embezzle funds, MacMahon noted, Hubbard had, immediately and without hesitation turned all her records over to the Goehrings.
She had made mistakes, he con-tinued, but had not only admitted them, but rectified them as soon as they were brought to her attention.
Far from being the perpetrator of a “scheme,” MacMahon continued, the defense, would show that Hubbard and her family had been the victims of one: that her accuser had conspired with the local police, had been notified in advance of the date, time and place of Hubbard’s arrest, had alerted at least one freelance photographer to the event, and had ac-companied that photographer in an effort to sell the photographs of the arrest to the local press.
One of Goehring’s goals, he said, was to “humiliate” Hubbard and that on a number of occasions he had “lied” to further that goal: lied to the police, lied to Middleburg Bank, lied to the press, and to others.
The evidence, he insisted, would show that Goehring was “obsessed” with Hubbard and her family, and in correspondence with the Commonwealth’s At-torney, had compared her case with that of O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony,
At 1:55 PM on Monday, Novem-ber 7, the state began presentation of its case.
For the rest of the day, and for two hours on Tuesday morning, Sincavage called witnesses to document that Hubbard had, indeed, on six occasions, deposited checks into the wrong accounts; that those checks rightfully belonged to the Goehrings’ Piedmont Standards Corporation; and that no one had given Hubbard permission to deposit them anywhere else.
Most, if not all those facts, had never been in dispute.
At 10:55 PM on Tuesday the state rested.
Defense attorney Ed MacMahon began the process of systematically undermining the state’s case and the credibility of the Goehrings during cross examination of the state’s own witnesses: Jack Goehring’s long-time business partner and friend John Bennison, Middleburg jeweler Tom Hayes and Jack Goehring himself on Monday, followed by Mary Kirk Goehring early Tuesday morning.
Closing testimony by Dee Dee Hubbard and her daughter, Lisa Patterson, on Tuesday afternoon by all accounts finished the job.
MacMahon made short work of the substance of the state’s case, using both documentary evidence and the testimony of the state’s own witnesses to show there was no evidence whatsoever of intent to permanently deprive the alleged victim in the case of the use of his money or property.
Most if not all the checks Hubbard was accused of deliberately stealing were properly endorsed. Indeed, the defense demonstrated, Middleburg Bank had al-ready agreed that mistakes had been made by its own tellers in misdepositing more the $7,000 of the $9,100 in question.
Though Goehring had previously denied, under oath, that Hubbard had re-paid the funds alleged by the state to be missing from his accounts, he reconsidered at trial, agreeing on November 7 that his wife had been correct when she identi-fied checks written by Hubbard to cover each and every one of the misdeposited rent checks.
Asked if he had failed to repay or even notice mistakes made in HIS favor by Hubbard, Goehring again demurred.
MacMahon produced checks properly belonging to Middleburg On Line that had been deposited by mistake into his Piedmont Standards account. None of those funds had been repaid to Hubbard.
Both the Goehrings and Middleburg jeweler Tom Hayes also con-firmed that on at least one occasion Jack Goehring had taken a Rolex watch in ex-change for rent for Hayes jewelry store, but had “forgotten” to mention it to his wife or their bookkeeper.
When Hubbard was asked to pay for the two months’ “missing rent” from Hayes, she did so.
Rather than return the money to Hubbard, the Goehrings said that they had, instead, “credited” her for money they claim Hubbard still owes them, but Hubbard claims she does not.
“Perjury” and “Betrayal”
Arguably the testimony most dam-aging to the states case spoke to the mo-tives and credibility of Hubbard’s accus-ers, most notably, Jack Goehring himself.
Defense Attorney MacMahon’s first question to Goehring under cross examination was whether or not he ever made “mistakes.”
His second, was whether Goerhring had ever accused his friend and partner of more than forty years, John Bennison, of perjury.
Goehring visibly flushed. Court documents indicate that, at Goehring’s suggestion, John Bennison had been called as a prosecution witness during the preliminary hearing in the Hubbard case.
On that occasion Bennison had testified, much to Goehring’s chagrin, that Hubbard had been an excellent employee, that she made mistakes but always corrected them, and that he continued to both employ and trust her.
MacMahon then showed Goeh-ring an email dated March 23, 2011, ad-dressed to Deputy Commonwealth’s At-torney Sincavae.
“I must say I am absolutely aghast at the testimony of John Bennison, my best personal friend and business partner of almost 45 years,” Goehring had written. “Indeed I am overwhelmed at the betrayal. I never dreamed he would flip and support Hubbard with his charming but disgraceful testimony. I am stunned. Indeed his phraseology, grautitous com-ments and body language virtually sug-gests collusion with the defense.”
After asserting in his note to Sincavage that Bennsion knew “Hubbard was a thief”, Goehring continued, “Simply,” he wrote, “Bennison perjured himself and his treachery is unparalleled in my life’s experience.”
Tactical Advice for Sincavage
Documents written by Goehring, MacMahon observed, made clear that Goerhing had not only repeatedly made unsubstantiated charges and accusations against Hubbard and members of her family, but had tried to give advice to the Commonwealth on how to pursue its case.
“Steve, we can only imagine what the government has spent investigating this case,” Goehring wrote to Sincavage on April 16. “We believe the cost must ex-ceed $150,000. So I ask, what is the logic in pursuing and almost zero financial loss of a financial crime victim at such great expense, while ignoring the other 97% of a massive crime? What is the logic of placing the innocent victims at future risk? Moreover, what is the logic of placing the government at risk? What is the logic of placing a standup police chief at risk? (As you know, the Town of Middleburg announce that they could complete their investigation of Chief Webber after the Hubbard affair is concluded, which sounds threatening.)”
“Sound logic,” Goehring con-tinued, “would dictate charging Ms. Hubbard with as many felony counts as is possible, and then shrewdly allowing them to bargain for a plea agreement, which MacMahon is known to favor. For safety we must be absolutely certain of a felony conviction, and this would be the easiest and cheapest way to secure it.”
Sincavage, instead, reduced the number of felony counts against Hubbard from 14 to 6.
A Januray 25, 2011, email from State Police Investigator Robert Mrak to Sincavage clearly revealed, MacMahon noted, that Goehring had gone so far as to ask the Commonwealth to use its pros-ecutorial and investigative power to assist the Goehrings in their civil suits against the Hubbards and others. Goehring, it would appear from Sincavage’s emails, had not only asked for information, but for questions that he might use in civil court that would help Sincavage win his case in criminal court.
Sincavage, in an email reply to Mrak and in a later email to Goehring himself, expressed concern over the legal and ethical implications of such requests.
“It seems to me that they are seek-ing my advice on whether/how to plead a civil action,” he wrote to State Police Investigator Mrak. “I am not their attorney so I cannot advise them on how to proceed on any civil matters. That is their decision to make. If they are asking me to charge the criminal case in a way such that it could possibly benefit their civil remedies, then the answer is that it would be improper for me to do so. Moreover, as previously stated, there is nothing about the rent situation [a reference to the Goeh-rings’ claim that the the Hubbards and Middleburg Eccentric owed them back rent] that is the subject of a prosecution.”
Circumvention of Constitutional Rights
In an email to Mary Kirk Goehring, with copies to both Steve Webber and Mrak, Sincavage wrote:
“I understand your interest in knowing the charge details, but I am a bit uncomfortable in there being any ap-pearance that I would be assisting you in your civil endeavors, which would be inappropriate, if it is I that provide that information to you. I am not certainex-actly for what purpose you are seeking that information, but when the request is presented in the same email wherein you discuss your intentions to file civil suit(s), it might be difficult to defend any accusa-tion toward me that I should have realized that you wanted the information to help prepare a civil suit or suits. I hope you understand why this puts me in a difficult position.. . . .
As for my input on questions that should be asked of Ms. Hubbard in a civil setting, again it would not be appropriate for me to in any [way] attempt to circumvent her constitutional rights by providing you questions to ask her, so I respectfully but absolutely decline your offer. As a matter of course her constitutional rights against self-incrimination could be in-voked in a civil setting as well as a crimi-nal setting.”
Fear of the “Sweet Old Lady”
On April 8, in an email to Sin-cavage and cc’d to Mrak, Goehring expressed his worries about whether or not Hubbard would actually be indicted by a grand jury, noting his his fear of the im-pact of a possible lawsuit against him for malicious prosecution.
“I do not believe the grand jury hearing will be a slam dunk affair,” he wrote. “I am almost fitfull that Hubbard will petition the court to testify on her own behalf as a surprise and MacMahon will have her well-prepared.”
“She is supremely gifted at lying,” Goehring continued, “and some jurors may fee sorry for the ‘sweet old lady’and conclude ‘not a true bill.’”
“Aren’t You a Lawyer?”
At one point during MacMahon’s cross presentation Goerhing complained that he had believed his emails and notes to Sincavage and Mrak were private and privileged.
MacMahon then asked Gohring, “Aren’t you a lawyer?”
Goehring replied that he was not, in fact, a practicing attorney, though he had a law degree, had at one time passed the Virginia bar exam and was an “Associate Member” of the Virginia Bar.
The defense had been given cop-ies of the emails MacMahon was quoting by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Sincavage as part of the trial’s discovery process.
Despite Goehring’s dismay, Mac-Mahon later noted, Sincavage, had no choice. Under the rules of discovery he was honor bound and legally obligated to provide the defense with any exculpatory evidence in his possession. To his credit, MacMahon said, Sincavage, did precisely what he was supposed to do.
“The position of the Government may be Untenable.”
On April 16, after reading a transcript of the preliminary hearing in the Hubbard case, Jack and Mary Kirk Goehring again wrote to Sincavage, noting that “ . . . we believe the position of the government may be untenable in a jury trial [emphasis in the original’]
“We believe,” they stated later, “that there is a high risk that a jury will react favorably to the “grandmother defen-dant,” as perception is everything in a jury trial. The perception that the government acted spitefully and maliciously may look valid and will hard to dispel. So it is time now to acknowledge that the government’s position may not be sustainable.”
“A Full Court Press Against this Master Criminal”
The Goehrings then advised Sincavage that, in their view, “the government must do the following to extract ourselves for this weak position: reconfigure the case by filing additional charges against Deanne Hubbard and others for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud that involves the entire family for the total crime.”
Reciting comments gleaned from unnamed sources on how well the building of the case against Hubbard was progressing, the Goehring told Sincavage that they had “ . . . relied on these governmental statements . . .” and hoped that, given “ . . . the combination of them that the Commonwealth would make a full court press against this master criminal.”
Failure to convict, the Goehrings complained to Sincavage, would put them at “enormous risk.” “The Hubbards have threatened publicly and repeatedly that if Deanne Hubbard is acquitted they will file a malicious lawsuit against us for filing this complaint.”
“From a community relations standpoint it has been an absolute disaster,” Goehring continued, blaming the Commonwealth for “not pursuing the full crime.”
“I am shunned, if not despised in town by folks,” I’ve known for many years, he wrote . . . . . “In the town of Middleburg I have become the villain.”
Charges of ID Theft
Asked by MacMahon if he had ever accused Dee Dee Hubbard, her ex husband Jim, her son Jay, her daughter in law Megan, her daughter and her daughter’s husband with the crime of identity theft, Jack Goehring again demurred.
MacMahon then presented yet another document signed and dated by Goehring on June 17, 2010, with the heading, “ID THEFTAFFADAVIDIT.”
MacMahon asked Goehring if he had any evidence that the people he named in the document had actually sto-len his identity.
Goehring testified that that he had signed the document because it was the only way Middleburg Bank would agree to begin to investigate the private accounts of other members of the Hubbard family.
Goehring’s wife and their bookkeeper had noted in earlier testimony that, much to their surprise and concern, they had discovered a large number of checks signed in Jack Goehring’s name but clearly not signed by Jack himself.
Goehring himself later testified that he had explicitly given permission for Hubbard to sign checks for him in emergencies or if he could not be reached and the funds were needed.
Later examinations of the supposedly “forged” checks indicated that most, if not all had gone to pay people doing work for Goehring’s Piedmont Standards Corporation, or to cover the purchase of emergency supplies, repairs and equipment for his rental properties.
Among the projects incurring such costs was the story-and-a-half cape cod style “cottage” Goehring erected a a “farm building” on the site of the Battle of Middleburg. Air conditioned and sport-ing a large fireplace and barn-like storage loft and door, it had been variously de-scribed as a shed, a pump house, a small “room,” and on a least one occasion, the future headquarters of the “Union Club of Middleburg.”
Nearly $80,000 at one point claimed to have been “looted” by the Hubbards from one of Goehring’s ac-counts turned out to have spent by Goehring himself to pay off a mortgage.
“To Hide the Money”
Perhaps the most damaging testimony to the state’s case was delivered by Hubbard herself.
Earlier testimony had established that Hubbard had worked for John Bennison and Jack Goehring for over twenty years as a rent collector and property manager, but never as a bookkeeper
When, in 2007, Bennison and Goehring dissolved an earlier partnership and divided the properties they owned together, both hired Hubbard to continue to collect rents and manage their properties.
Bennison continued to keep his own books.
Goehring, however, despite repeated testimony that his wife was a skilled bookkeeper, made a different decision.
Goehring, Hubbard said, had asked her not only to stay on as his property manager, but, for the first time in their long history together, to serve a as bookkeeper..
Given their long relationship, and given that Goehring’s new Piedmont Standards Corporation owned the buildings in which Hubbard lived, the building in which her son and daughter-in-law and greandson lived, the bulding that housed her daughter’s business, and the offices of both Middleburg On Line and the Middleburg Eccentric Hubbard agreed.
Asked why she thought Goehring had asked her to keep the Piedmont Standards books, Hubbard testified that Goerhing told her specifically that Mrs. Goehring was not to see or have access to the new books.
Goehring also, she said, used Piedmont Standards to hide money and other projects and activities from his wife.
On at least one occasion, she testified, Goehring had asked her to hold checks made out to his McLean based landscaping business and other corporations he owned, to push income from one year into another.
Though both Goehring and his wife were available for testimony, the Commonwealth never recalled either to refute Hubbard’s assertions.
According to both MacMahon and passages from a large collection of correspondence, the Goehrings expressed growing concern about the possible legal implications of dismissal of their charges against the Hubbards, or worse, having the Commonwealth lose its case court.
As a result, MacMahon contended, more and more evidence emerged of increasingly desperate attempts to intimidate Hubbard, her, family, her business associates and friends.
A Heads Up from Chief Webber
Intimidation had begun, MacMahon noted, with Hubbard’s arrest.
With free lance photographer Maud Krulla present as a potential witness, MacMahon asked Goehring if he had been given advanced notice of the date, time, and place of Hubbard’s arrest.
Earlier he had testified that former Middleburg Police Chief Webber had given him several days notice of the pending arrest. On November 7 he testified he had known about it for a week and had alerted Krulla, a friend and former business associate.
Krulla, witnesses report, was already waiting in Mello Out the day of Hubbard’s surprise arrest and perp walk. Emails reveal that Chief Webber had in fact lured Hubbard to the restaurant by telling her he wanted to meet there, rather than at his office, to discuss plans for Christmas in Middleburg.
$200 from the Loudoun Times Mirror
Under cross-examination Goehring admitted that he too was nearby dur-ing the arrest, and after the event had accompanied Krulla to Middleburg Life to sell her pictures.
Both Middleburg Life (and Middleburg Life’s sister publication, Leesburg Today) declined the offer.
Asked if he had finally sold the pictures for $200, Goehring insisted that he had not.
Shown a receipt from the Loudoun Times Mirror for $200 in payment for Krulla’s pictures, Goehring denied having accompanied her to Leesburg to sell them.
Asked if his purpose was not to humiliate Hubbard, Goehring replied that he did it because he thought the public had “a right to know.”
The Loudoun Times Mirror had earlier refused, on ethical grounds, to identify Krulla as the source of the photographs they spread across the front page of their paper the day after Hubbard’s arrest.
At press time no comment on the paper’s decision to pay Krulla, print her pictures with a Times Mirror photo attribution, and post them on YouTube with links from the paper’s website has been forthcoming.
“Her Most Vulnerable Asset”
Trial documents also revealed that Goehring, on at least one occasion, urged the Commonwealth to press charges not only against Hubbard, but against her entire family because “they are her most vulnerable asset.”
Documents reveal that suggestions were made the police arrest all the adult members of the Hubbard families at the same time.
When Hubbard found out, she said, her first question was what would happen to her grandchildren in such a situation. Fearing for their safety, she made arrangements for them to be taken in by friends, “just in case.”
Civil Suits and Harassment
In addition to suggesting that the Commonwealth initiate criminal charges against all the Hubbards, MacMahon noted that the Goehrings have filed civil suits in Loudoun and Fauquier counties against Hubbard, all the adult members of her family, the newspaper she co-founded and its publisher.
Hubbard’s daughter, former Middleburg Town Council member Lisa Patterson, testified that, in addition to the pressure of the criminal and civil charges filed against her, she had been the subject of constant personal harassment.
The Case of the Missing Brassware
On one occasion, having heard of “other thefts” in town, Mary Kirk Goehring testified, her husband said that he had noticed a brassware display missing from Patterson’s restaurant, Mello Out.
He reported the possible “theft” she said, to former Middleburg police chief Steve Webber.
Patterson testified that, as a result, she was summoned to the Middleburg Police station and interrogated at length about the “theft” by former Chief Steve Webber.
Patterson later found that her husband, out of town at the time, had moved the supposedly “stolen” brassware into a storage area during a cleanup and painting session.
Patterson had Webber himself pick up the brassware, and sign a receipt for it.
Patterson also testified that Goehring frequently showed up uninvited at her place of business.
On one occasion he told her that he was there to photograph her electric meter. When asked to leave, she said, Goehring asserted his right as a property owner to be there whenever he pleased.
Patterson said she had replied by pointing out the provisions of the new two year lease Goehring had asked her to sign. The document explicitly required that he give notice before entering the property.
Patterson then testified that she told Goehring that, if necessary, she would obtain a “no trespass” restraining order against him.
When Goerhring was asked by defense attorney Ed MacMahon why he would sign two year rental agreements with people he considered criminals, Goehring replied that he needed the money.
In correspondence with the Commonwealth’s Attorney Georhring had indicated that he feared that his charges against Hubbard, her family and the Eccentric would lead to their abandoning homes and offices they rented from him, with the unfortunate side effect of leaving him with empty properties that would be difficult to fill during a recession.
Goehring later charged that Patterson had “stolen” electricity from him at Mello Out.
The Defense Rests
After Patterson’s testimony the defense rested.
A defense motion to immediately dismiss all charges against Hubbard was denied by Judge Chamblin.
After Sincavage and MacMahon reprised their cases in brief closing statements, Judge Chamblin once more explained the charges against Hubbard and outlined the jury’s duties and obligations under the law.
Because Tuesday, November 8, was Election Day, Chamblin told the jury that both parties in the case had agreed that Tuesday’s jury deliberations would be halted at 5:00 PM to allow those who had not yet voted to get to the polls.
If the jury needed more time to reach a verdict, Chamblin noted, court would be reconvened at 9:00 AM on Wednesday.
Just after 3:30 PM the jury retired to elect a foreman, review the evidence in the case, and reach a verdict on each of the six different charges against Hubbard.
The jury finished its work quickly
Well before 5:00 PM Judge Chamblin, Sincavage, MacMahon and Hubbard were alerted that the jury was in..
Asked by Judge Chamblin if they had reached a verdict, the jury foreman said yes and delivered six pieces of pa-per, one for each of the charges against Hubbard, to the Clerk of Court
When Judge Chamblin asked her to read the verdict, a long silence followed.
Following an inaudible sidebar exchange between Judge and Clerk, Chamblin then asked the Clerk to hand him the verdicts.
Another long pause followed, as Judge Chamblin looked over the documents.
Rather than delivering six verdicts, the jury had apparently delivered only one.
At 4:55 PM Judge Chamblin looked up and across the courtroom, and said, “The short version of this is innocent . . . of all charges.”