Jefferson indicted in tax credit case

Billy G. Jefferson Jr.

Billy G. Jefferson Jr.

A local developer and prominent Fan District landlord was formally indicted Tuesday, more than four months after his arrest on charges of cheating Virginia’s historic tax credit system.

A grand jury indicted Billy G. Jefferson Jr. on two counts of forging and uttering public records. A trial is slated for Nov. 15.

Jefferson, head of Historic Property Management (formerly River City Real Estate), is accused of gaming the state’s historic tax credit system by submitting falsified reports to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in February of last year. When he was arrested in April, police said his misrepresentations amounted to “over $2 million in tax fraud.”

Jefferson originally faced eight felony charges, four each for forging and uttering public records, but six of the charges were dropped at a July hearing in Richmond General District Court.

Jefferson waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the two remaining charges. The case then moved to a Richmond City Circuit Court grand jury, which issued Tuesday’s indictments.

The charges against Jefferson, 51, stem from applications he submitted for historic tax credits on four building rehab projects. The Department of Historic Resources will not disclose which properties are in question while the case is under investigation.

Both counts Jefferson is facing carry a minimum two-year sentence with a maximum of ten years, meaning the developer would face between four and 20 years in prison if convicted on both charges. He was released on a $10,000 bond following his April 18 arraignment.

Charles James of Williams Mullen is representing Jefferson. James declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

Patrick Dorgan, chief of the special prosecutions and organized crime section of the Virginia attorney general’s office, is leading the prosecution.

The state’s historic tax credit program allows developers to recoup 25 percent of their construction costs on eligible projects. Developers must have their reported costs verified by a certified public accountant, but wildly inflated costs reports have sunk historic tax credit developers in the past.

In 2011, Justin French pleaded guilty to inflating construction costs on several projects, netting more than $7 million in fraudulent state and federal incentives. A year later, two prominent Norfolk-area developers were charged in a $41 million historic tax credit scheme.

Billy G. Jefferson Jr. partnered with Justin French to rehab the Tobacco Factory at 700 Stockton St. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

Billy G. Jefferson Jr. partnered with Justin French to rehab the Tobacco Factory at 700 Stockton St. (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

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Justin Wright
Justin Wright
7 years ago

It’s good to see Bill Jefferson held accountable for something. I live in one of River City’s properties in the museum district and it was awful. I believe if somebody want’s to get the Historic property credit not only do the need the right record keeping but they need to maintain the buildings to a high standard.