C.O.P.E. HOUSE CONSPIRATOR SENTENCED TO JAIL
On March 19th, 2015, Marshall Lineberry, 44, of Wytheville, was sentenced in Buchanan County Circuit Court after he pled no contest to Conspiracy to Commit Embezzlement over $200 and four counts of Embezzlement over $200, on July 7th, 2014. Lineberry was sentenced to 15 years of incarceration with 14 years and 355 days suspended on the condition he complete 6 years probation. Lineberry was also ordered to pay back $12,119.00 in restitution to the C.O.P.E. House.
The investigation showed that in 2011, and continuing through 2013, Lineberry was embezzling funds from the C.O.P.E. House, which is a local food bank for the needy. While initially it was believed Lineberry had embezzled over $20,000, he was able to produce records that showed that he properly used some of the money for the C.O.P.E House’s benefit. Also, some of the embezzled money had been placed in a trust fund by Lineberry, who later returned it after the investigation commenced.
During the sentencing hearing, Lineberry maintained his innocence throughout. In rebuttal, the Commonwealth succinctly laid out the dates and amounts that Lineberry embezzled. Prosecutors introduced detailed records into evidence that proved that Lineberry was buying things like leather cleaner, tire cleaner, and pink IPad cases, none of which are used or needed by the C.O.P.E. House. Despite the irony, Lineberry also used stolen money from the food bank to buy himself a bag of chips and a soda.
In closing arguments, the Commonwealth argued that not only did he steal from the needy, but that Lineberry also stole from every taxpayer in Buchanan County because the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors had donated money to the food bank in hopes of helping the neediest members of our community, and lobbied for a lengthy term of incarceration because Lineberry stole such a large amount of money, and stole it from the ones who needed help the most.
Ultimately, the Judge sentenced Lineberry to serve 10 days in jail, which he ordered that Lineberry could serve on weekends. Lineberry will also have to complete 6 years of probation and pay restitution. In sentencing the defendant, the Court noted that its sentence was in excess of the recommended sentencing guidelines of probation with no incarceration.
When asked to comment, Arrington stated that “while I respect the Court’s ruling and sentence, I genuinely felt that Mr. Lineberry deserved a lengthy prison sentence. Mr. Lineberry stole from every person in this County, and he stole from an organization that was trying to help some the neediest members of our community. His actions were truly appalling.” Arrington went on to commend the work of the Virginia State Police. Arrington also commended the C.O.P.E House for its mission of helping people in the area and encouraged people to help this wonderful organization if they are able.