Former Farmington president admits to stealing from widow

Timberlake Lighting, which is owned by Victor and Ann Dandridge, is named in Lynne Kinder’s $9 million suit against the couple and their business.
Staff photo Timberlake Lighting, which is owned by Victor and Ann Dandridge, is named in Lynne Kinder’s $9 million suit against the couple and their business. Staff photo

The former president of Farmington Country Club, Victor Dandridge III, admits he stole money from his friend’s widow, but quibbles about the amount in a January 6 response to her lawsuit.

Dandridge, who also served as president of the Farmington Property Owners Association and the Virginia Athletics Foundation, which raises money for UVA’s athletic scholarships, says he acted alone in the scheme to bolster his bleeding businesses. He says that other parties named in the suit, including his wife, Ann Claiborne Dandridge, his father, Victor Dandridge Jr., his friend and HBK Capital Management officer Richard Booth, Virginia National Bank and Richmond wealth management firm Thompson Davis, which he joined in 2012, had nothing to do with his swindlings.

He also admits that for years he was an unlicensed and unregistered manager of other people’s money, and that his own businesses, which include Timberlake Lighting and Huntington Learning Center franchises, were “hemorrhaging monies for years,” according to the complaint.

Richmonder Lynne Kinder alleges in her November 17 suit that after her husband, Trey, died unexpectedly at age 41 from a heart attack on New Year’s Eve 2005, Dandridge, who grew up with her husband in Roanoke and was a groomsman in the couple’s wedding, told Kinder he owed it to his friend to take care of her and her two young children.

She trusted Dandridge with nearly $7 million and has recovered only $735,000, according to her suit.

In his response, Dandridge says he is “solely responsible and to blame for his despicable conduct and the other defendants only fault would have been to believe him.”

He also alleges multiple times that he returned $1.35 million to Kinder in 2007 to pay for taxes, $50,000 on three separate occasions in 2016 and various amounts for tuition, living expenses and taxes that were not acknowledged in Kinder’s suit.

Attorney David Heilberg, who is not connected to the case, describes Dandridge’s falling on the sword to protect his wife and father as trying to “insulate them” as a source of funds for recovery by saying, “I did it.”

The lawsuit claims the other parties “should have known” about Dandridge’s misuse of Kinder’s funds. Heilberg says Kinder would have to prove they had “actual knowledge” of the thefts, “which would be hard to prove.”

Lawyers call the strategy of admitting guilt “confessed judgment,” says Heilberg. “He’s confessed to liability and he’s confessed to causation.”

He says such a strategy is common in personal injury cases facing a jury. “It’s a credible defense—’I admit I did it but I didn’t cause all these damages.’ The defendant expects to pay something but not all that the plaintiff alleges.”

In his response, Dandridge admits to taking Kinder’s money, but says he has “insufficient information and knowledge to state specific amounts” over the nine years he managed her portfolio. He denies her claims that she lost more than $5 million of the money she entrusted with him, adding that some of the losses were market driven.

The lawsuit says the FBI is investigating the bilking allegations. Kinder’s attorney in Richmond, Mark Krudys, declined to comment, as did Dandridge’s attorney Fran Lawrence.

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