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Memo wants Presgraves 'surplusage' struck

Filing says 'inflammatory language' in indictment is not relevant to his trial

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- Less than seven weeks before a trial that could lead to life imprisonment for their client, attorneys for former Page County Sheriff Daniel W. "Danny" Presgraves continue to file motions and documents in U.S. District Court.

On Thursday, a memo was filed supporting a motion made in February asking for "surplusage" in the indictment against him to be struck.

Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure say that "a Court may strike from the indictment any allegation that is unnecessary to prove the offense," the Feb. 12 motion says.

Presgraves faces 23 counts in two separate indictments, including racketeering, money laundering, lying to federal investigators, obstructing a federal grand jury investigation and violating the rights of his female employees. If convicted on all counts, he could face more than 300 years in prison.

The main indictment alleges that Presgraves subjected numerous women who worked for him to harassment, including groping, kissing and oral sex.

Thursday's memo says it seeks to prevent jurors from getting "irrelevant and prejudicial allegations in the Indictment."

"The Indictment here uses inflammatory and prejudicial language that serves no purpose other than to prejudice Presgraves and to confuse the jury," it says.

The memo says the indictment's first nine pages have "numerous assertions" that are irrelevant to the charges and that are "prejudicial and inflammatory."

It cites a reference to the 87 employees in the Page County Sheriff's Office who could be fired without cause by Presgraves.

"The evidence at trial will show that, even if Presgraves did engage in sexual relations with some of the accusers, such contact was entirely consensual and in keeping with each alleged victim's sexual history, proclivities or expressed desires," the memo says. "The Government uses the complainants' 'at-will' status to bolster its theory that the accusers were forced to engage in sexual relations with Presgraves out of fear that they might lose their jobs if they did not."

February's motion says that the sexual allegations aren't the basis for any of the charges in the indictment.

"In fact, these alleged victims are never referenced or addressed in the Indictment beyond the salacious introduction," it says.

Thursday's memo also takes issue with the indictment's mentioning of Presgraves' past job as a law enforcement officer with the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Board, saying it's irrelevant to the charges against him and implies that as a "career" law enforcement officer he would know his actions were criminal.

"The Government uses this prior status in an effort to consciously place Presgraves on a pedestal only to then knock him down over the course of the remaining 41 pages of the Indictment and ultimately inflame the passions of the jury," the memo says.

It says the indictment's allegation that Presgraves, or his family members, or employees transported inmates from the jail to work sites was superfluous and "designed to depict Presgraves as so heartless that he would use his own family (including his wife) to further his unlawful acts."

Presgraves is scheduled to go on trial on Sept. 16. The final pretrial motions conference is Aug. 14 in Roanoke, according to online court records.

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