Local News

Zebulon Attorney Accused Of Embezzlement Posts Bail

Posted February 23, 2004

— Zebulon attorney Jonathan Koffa posted bail Monday hours after he turned himself in to authorities. He is accused of taking money from his clients.

Koffa has been charged with felony worthless check. Police say the former town manager wrote a bad check for $72,727 to a manufactured home dealer.

"He is prepared to face the charges against him, and we will continue to move forward preparing his defense," said Rusty DeMent, Koffa's attorney.

The State Bureau of Investigation also served a warrant on Koffa Monday for embezzlement. He is accused of allegedly taking nearly $200,000 from three foreclosures he was supposed to be holding in trust for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Both cases involve taking money from a trust account at his private practice. Zebulon police are investigating whether his ties with leaders from the African country of Liberia could be behind the missing cash.

"The rumor is yes, he's connected with the government and he may have been trying to fund that government and help that government, but at this point, that's strictly a rumor. We don't really know for sure," said Zebulon police chief Tim Hayworth said.

Betty Strickland said she is out more than $72,000. As the owner of Triangle East Homes, she worked several real estate closings with Koffa. After the last one, Strickland said the check Koffa gave her was no good.

"I don't think it was done intentionally. I think there is some underlying reason that caused him to do this," she said.

Strickland said she was forced to close her 10-year-old business. Zebulon Police and the SBI are looking into other cases involving Koffa.

According to his passport, Koffa left the United States in January and came back Feb. 11 -- the same day a warrant was issued for his arrest.

While his attorney said he was not trying to elude authorities, Zebulon's police chief said he did not come forward until now. Koffa's attorney said his client will cooperate from this point forward.

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