Embezzlement and computer trespass charges have been dismissed against a retired Virginia Department of Taxation finance manager accused of stealing nearly $1.3 million in public funds after a Richmond judge learned the defendant committed suicide.
Steve Hardie Anderson, 67, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Halifax County on Oct. 8 — the same day he was due to appear in Richmond Circuit Court for a hearing to review the status of his prosecution on two felony charges of embezzlement of public funds and altering computer data for the purposes of theft.
Anderson was indicted on the charges in May after a multiyear investigation by the Office of the State Inspector General that followed an internal probe by the Department of Taxation. The case was being prosecuted by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.
On Oct. 29, Assistant Attorney General Ayesha Meekins filed a motion in Richmond Circuit Court seeking to dismiss the charges. Meekins wrote that she and Anderson’s attorney, William Dinkin, appeared in court Oct. 8 to decide on a hearing date for Anderson to enter a plea.
Anderson failed to appear for the Oct. 8 hearing and Dinkin shared with the court his concern that Anderson may have harmed himself. The prosecution subsequently confirmed his death in Halifax, where he lived, and reviewed his death certification, according to court papers.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke ruled Anderson’s death a suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a spokesperson said Monday.
The order to dismiss the charges was entered Thursday.
The allegations against Anderson centered on his interaction with two taxation employees who allegedly gave Anderson access to the department’s computer systems and “confidential taxpayer accounts,” OSIG said in a June statement. Specifics about how the funds were misappropriated were not disclosed.
The two taxation employees who are alleged to have assisted Anderson have been terminated, but no criminal charges will be filed against them, an OSIG spokeswoman said Monday.
“This was a complicated and serpentine investigation that reached a successful conclusion through the perseverance and thoroughness of our special agents here at OSIG and in collaboration with Virginia Tax and [the Attorney General’s Office],” State Inspector General Michael Westfall said in June.
Anderson had repaid Virginia about $250,000 of the stolen funds, OSIG said.
Anderson had been employed for nearly 40 years with the taxation department until his retirement in 2019. When he left, he was earning $72,935 as a Financial Services Manager I, according to state human resources records. OSIG described Anderson as a retired “compliance supervisor.”
Anderson was known for his service to the community in the Halifax County region, according to the South Boston News & Record.
He served on the Halifax County School Board from 2001 to 2005 and was a member of the South Boston Rotary Club, a deacon with Hunting Creek Baptist Church and a former treasurer with the Dan River Baptist Association, the newspaper said.