A Richmond developer with ties to Justin French and known for his flashy Monument Avenue home was arrested Wednesday for alleged fraud related to the state’s historic tax credit system.
Billy G. Jefferson Jr., head of River City Real Estate, was charged Thursday with eight felony counts of forging and uttering public records by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“The charges stem from the submission of false documents to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources,” according to a statement released Thursday by the State Police. “The submission of the false documents has resulted in over two million dollars in tax fraud to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
The charges were related to four of Jefferson’s real estate projects that were certified for state tax credits in 2012, the DHR said in a statement Thursday.
Jefferson was arrested in Carytown on the 3000 block of West Cary Street, according to the State Police. He was arraigned Thursday morning and released on a $10,000 bond. The state attorney general’s office will handle the case.
Jefferson did not return a call for comment. He is not facing any federal charges.
Williams Mullen attorney Charles James is representing Jefferson in the case. James declined to comment on the matter.
Kathleen Kilpatrick, director of DHR, said in a statement that the arrest “comes as no surprise” because it was DHR that tipped off state law enforcement to irregularities in Jefferson’s tax credit filings.
“During the past four years, DHR has fully cooperated with law enforcement on this matter and we intend to continue to provide assistance to state and federal partners as these investigations move forward,” Kilpatrick said in the statement.
The agency declined to specify the four properties in question.
Kilpatrick said that she still believes the tax credit program is crucial for revitalization in urban and rural areas of Virginia but that “DHR has been and remains vigilant in protecting the program against any abuses by reporting suspected fraud and cooperating with law enforcement officials.”
That’s despite high-profile cases of tax credit fraud in Virginia uncovered over the past several years, including the French saga and two developers in Norfolk who last year were charged with gaming the system.
Julie Langan, DHR’s deputy director of preservation programs, said the agency had been wary of Jefferson for about four years, dating back to the time the agency began investigating Justin French’s misdeeds.
“We had some of the same concerns with Bill Jefferson that we had with Justin,” she said.
Jefferson, 51, partnered with French on a 225-unit conversion project called the Tobacco Factory at 700 Stockton St. and on the Parachute Factory building at 307 Stockton St.
French is serving a 16-year sentence in federal prison for tax credit fraud. French lied about the expenses he put into redeveloping old properties in order to inflate the amount of tax credits he could recoup.
In addition to his French collaborations, Jefferson’s company has amassed properties throughout the Fan and the Museum District. Jefferson’s companies or their affiliates own more than two-dozen apartment buildings along Boulevard, North Thompson Street and Monument Avenue.
His 10,000-square-foot house at the corner of Monument Avenue and Boulevard made a splash in Richmond and attracted media attention when it debuted in 2004.
According to a 2004 article from the Times-Dispatch, Jefferson designed the house around ideas gleaned from Internet searches related to the word “mansion.”
The house is valued at $1.5 million.
Billy G. Jefferson’s companies or their affiliates own dozens of Richmond apartment buildings.