MANASSAS -- A former Prince William County sheriff charged
with larceny and embezzlement walked away from court a free
man this week.
E. Lee Stoffregen III was accused of taking an AR-15
carbine rifle with him when he left office in late 2003 and
of embezzling county money to bankroll his retirement party.
Stoffregen initially was charged with felony embezzlement
and grand larceny. However, those charges were amended to
misdemeanor embezzlement and petit larceny in exchange for a
no contest plea he entered in February.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Stoffregen's
charges were to be dropped if he returned the gun to the
sheriff's office and paid the county $16,500 by May 15,
which he did, King George County Commonwealth's Attorney
Matthew J. Britton said.
During a pre-trial hearing in December, Stoffregen's
defense attorney, Blair D. Howard, argued that the gun, a
street version of the military's M-16, had been given to
Stoffregen by a gun dealer and was his to keep after he left
Stoffregen also was accused of embezzling county money
from an unreported bank account to bankroll his retirement
While in office, Stoffregen maintained two sheriff's
office accounts that were reported to the county, as well as
a third unreported account that held up to $20,000, Britton
said in February. Britton was brought in to try the case to
prevent a possible conflict of interest for local
Thousands of dollars from the unreported account were
used to pay for Stoffregen's going-away party at a Marriott
hotel after he lost the 2003 election to current Sheriff
Glendell Hill, according to court records.
For prosecutors, the plea deal was a way to avoid what
could have been a long and costly trial, Britton said.
Stoffregen said he was very pleased with the outcome of
his case. "I want to thank my family and friends for
supporting me and telling me to keep the faith," he said.
Stoffregen was the subject of a lengthy investigation
that involved local authorities, state police and the FBI,
Britton said. The investigation produced a lot of data, but
only the gun theft and embezzlement allegations merited a
trial, Britton said in February.