By Joe Beck
A Woodstock man who admitted selling hundreds of pounds of marijuana throughout the Northern Shenandoah Valley from 2005 until 2012 was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to eight years in prison.
Joshua Samuel Knafel, 25, also will be forced to forfeit $100,000 in cash or personal property or real estate as part of a plea agreement reached earlier between his attorney and federal prosecutors.
The eight-year prison term includes five years probation, which was also part of the plea agreement. Prosecutors agreed to drop charges of possession of a gun during drug trafficking and obstruction of justice.
Knafel was arrested late last year. A police search of his home at 411 W. Spring St. produced guns, a marijuana grinder, a smoking device, laptop computer, cell phone and iPod, according to authorities.
A statement of facts signed by Knafel in August states that he "stored, packaged and distributed" 881 pounds to 1,543 pounds of marijuana for seven years out of the basement of the Spring Street residence.
"Knafel generally received $1,800 per pound of marijuana he sold," according to the statement of facts. Knafel spent the money obtained from marijuana sales to buy more of the drug as well as personal possessions such as vehicles and clothing, the document states.
Knafel is required to forfeit 12 guns as part of the plea agreement, including a Glock, a .357-caliber Taurus revolver and a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun. A 2005 Cadillac and 2004 Lincoln SUV also are listed among items that are subject to forfeiture.
Several people wrote letters on behalf of Knafel that were placed in his court file.
Sarah Peer, who identified herself as Knafel's fiancée, wrote of the couple's "exciting ambitions for the future we were planning to build together, and it's admittedly excruciating for me to reflect upon those dreams and acknowledge how much has changed in the last year.
"Those plans were envisioned with Joshua standing by my side but the reality that I will be walking alone for the foreseeable future and both giving birth to and raising our son on my own, is a challenge I'm willing to face because of the confidence I have in who he is."
Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, wrote that Knafel had a "very successful and legitimate car sales career at the time all of this came crashing down around him. Josh had just built a house for his fiancée and then unborn child and was progressing toward a responsible lifestyle."
Gilbert asked U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski to "afford him any opportunity to get back on that track in a timely manner after he has paid his debt to society."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org