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Head of River City Real Estate arrested in tax scheme

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Thursday’s arrest of prominent Richmond developer Billy G. Jefferson came as no surprise to officials at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR).

"We have been working with law enforcement for the past four years," said Julie Langan, Deputy Director of DHR.

Jefferson, who is the head of River City Real Estate, is facing four felony charges for taking tax credits from the state for fixing up historic properties that police believe he didn't deserve. Police claim he’s taken about $2 million dollars.

"In essence the person is lying about what they spent, it's not that they didn't do the work; it's that they didn't spend what they're claiming to have spent,” said Langan.

Investigators have seen the scheme before. A notable Richmond case was that of developer Justin French, who is now serving a 16-year sentence for tax fraud in federal prison.

It's reported that French and Jefferson had business ties, and the DHR claims noticed financial inconsistencies in both around the same time.

Jefferson has collected quite a few properties in the Fan along Boulevard and Monument Avenue, as well as in Carytown and Manchester. We visited Jefferson's home on Monument Avenue Thursday night but got no answer.

His home on Monument Ave. is appraised at $1.5 million, just half-million less than what officials say he owes.

DHR officials say the tax credit program has changed the face of Virginia and to take advantage of it is to hurt communities.

"People come to Virginia to see our history, it [tax credit] helps people do a better job of taking care of what we have"

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