Economic development head resigns during audit; results of investigation to come

Warren Harris, for director of the city's economic development department, had worked for the city for more than 11 years (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)
Warren Harris, for director of the city’s economic development department, had worked for the city for more than 11 years (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Warren Harris submitted his resignation from his position as the city’s director of economic development on Monday, according to an email from City Manager Dave Hansen.

In the email to Mayor Louis Jones and members of City Council, Hansen announced Harris’s departure after accepting his resignation at 11 a.m.

Harris’s abrupt resignation came in the middle of an audit of the economic development department, City Auditor Lyndon Remias said in emails Wednesday.

“One of the objectives of the audit was to review the department’s use of the city credit card,” Remias said. “As part of this process we are reviewing all employees who have a city credit card, including Warren Harris.”

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Remias declined to answer questions about the specific reasons behind Harris’s resignation, and referred those questions to the city manager’s office.

Remias said the audit of the full economic development department stemmed from a separate investigation that began three months ago.

That investigation involved a former employee of the department, who Remias said has also since resigned.

Remias added the results of that earlier case have been forwarded to police and the audit found evidence of “improper use of the city credit card.”

The audit was prompted by a call to the city’s Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline.

It remains unclear whether those findings are still under investigation by the police, who were not immediately available for comment.

The economic development department is responsible for expanding and diversifying the tax base, attracting new businesses and jobs, and generally building business relationships nationally and internationally.

According to its website, the department has offices in Philippines, Spain, and German.

Remias said the current audit of the economic development department is ongoing and will conclude in approximately 4 to 6 weeks.

Hansen and Jones did not immediately respond to emails asking for comments about Harris’s resignation.

Contact information could not be found for Harris.

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