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Presgraves set to enter guilty plea today

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- Former Page County Sheriff Daniel W. "Danny" Presgraves is scheduled to enter a guilty plea in U.S. District Court this morning.

Online court records indicate the former sheriff, facing a slew of corruption charges from his time in office, is scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse at 10 a.m.

A member of his defense team, Chuck James, a partner at Williams Mullen in Richmond, said Presgraves is entering into a plea agreement, but wouldn't elaborate beyond that.

Presgraves, who is free on bail, was arrested last fall on a 22-count indictment, and a 23rd count was handed down in a separate indictment in June.

He was scheduled to go on trial Sept. 16 on the 22 charges -- violating federal racketeering laws, money laundering, two counts of mail fraud, two counts of conspiracy related to a cockfighting operation, two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, four counts of obstructing a federal grand jury investigation, six counts of obstructing a law enforcement investigation and four counts of violating the civil rights of female subordinates working for the Page County Sheriff's Office.

The second indictment was on a single charge of lying to an FBI agent.

This week, U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad refused to grant Presgraves' motion to dismiss the racketeering charge he faces. According to Conrad's memorandum opinion handed down Tuesday, Presgraves' alleged racketeering involves witness tampering, mail fraud, bribery and aiding and abetting a marijuana offense.

Conrad's memo disagrees with Presgraves' contention that the alleged offenses aren't related to his office.

"[C]ertain [alleged] acts were committed in the defendant's physical office," it says. "The court is also unpersuaded by the defendant's argument that the predicate acts set forth in the first indictment do not constitute a 'pattern of racketeering activity.'"

For racketeering activity to be considered a pattern, there must be two such acts in 10 years that are related and "amount to or pose a threat of continued criminal activity," the memo says.

Conrad had agreed that some details of Presgraves' alleged sexual harassment of his female subordinates could be withheld from jurors. He agreed to strike from the indictment allegations concerning seven women. The allegations involved comments about and a request for oral sex, invitations for sexual encounters and masturbating in front of one woman.

"The allegations do not form the basis of, and are not necessary to prove, any of the twenty-two counts charged in the first indictment," the memorandum says. "Moreover, such allegations are likely to inflame the jury and unduly prejudice the defendant."

Allegations of sexual harassment involving a further five women remain in the indictment. Presgraves is alleged to have asked them -- and in one case threatened one's daughter -- to not testify against him.

Conrad granted Presgraves' request to sever one count -- lying to an IRS agent -- according to online court documents. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bondurant, who is leading the prosecution, was one of only a couple witnesses when the alleged lying occurred, and could have been made to testify, court documents say.

For the same reason, Conrad ruled against combining the two indictments.

In his memo, Conrad also refused to dismiss two counts of mail fraud.

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1 Comment

Larry Signor

Where is the justice here?

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