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* Prosecutors still hope to use info from dead witness against Presgraves

By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

(1:25 p.m.) HARRISONBURG -- Though a cockfighting pit owner who may have testified against former Page County Sheriff Daniel W. "Danny" Presgraves has died, prosecutors plan to introduce the substance of the conversation between Presgraves and the owner through a former Page County Sheriff's Office employee, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

In a memo filed supporting a February motion asking that "surplusage" in the indictment against Presgraves be struck, the former sheriff's attorneys argue that "the owner of the Naked Creek cockfighting pit is deceased and any testimony concerning statements Presgraves allegedly made to him are inadmissible because they are irrelevant."

According to the indictment, Presgraves "told the owner of a cockfighting pit in the Naked Creek section of Page County that as long as he kept a low profile he has nothing to worry about from law enforcement."

In its answer to Presgraves' motion to strike the surplusage, the government says it "intends to introduce the substance of this conversation through a former employee of the PCSO, James Moomaw, who was present with Presgraves and the owner of the cockfighting pit when this conversation took place."

"Therefore, this statement by the defendant is clearly admissible," it 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.

For further developments, visit nvdaily.com or read the print edition of The Northern Virginia Daily.

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