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Man who raced through Strasburg may face long prison term

Devon R. Gray (Buy photo)

By Joe Beck

A Woodstock man accused of leading police on a nighttime chase through Strasburg that resulted in one officer crashing his car may be facing a long prison sentence after pleading guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three heroin distribution charges and a gun-related offense.

Devon Renard Gray, 42, could receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on the gun charge alone. Each of the drug offenses carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Wolthuis agreed to drop four other drug distribution charges against Gray, whose last known address before his arrest was 447 Water St.

A felony eluding charge stemming from the police chase through Strasburg remains pending in Frederick County Circuit Court, along with a charge of possession of marijuana.

The statement of facts filed in connection with the plea agreement states that Gray sold heroin five times to a confidential police informant from March 5 through March 27 and was arrested on April 5 after receiving a handgun from an undercover agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in exchange for $700 worth of heroin in the future.

The amounts of heroin sold in the earlier transactions ranged from 1.088 grams to .203. The price was $225 or $200, except for two buys that also included .280 grams of cocaine and .391 grams of cocaine, according to the statement of facts. The heroin-cocaine purchases involved payments of $300 and $325, according to the statement of facts.

The same court document states that the confidential informant told law enforcement officers he or she had bought drugs 40 times from Gray before the purchases supervised by law enforcement officials.

The confidential informant, identified in the court document as "the CI" saw Gray with a gun "on about four occasions," according to the statement of facts.

"The CI described the firearm as being a compact pistol that Gray carried in his waistband and on one occasion placed on a table," according to the statement of facts.

Gray's arrest on April 5 came about a week after a police chase through Strasburg that may have reached speeds of 90 mph, according to a criminal complaint filed in Frederick County. One officer crashed his car during the pursuit and suffered minor injuries.

Police identified Gray as the suspect during the chase, but he escaped later on foot and remained at large for a few days afterward, according to court records.

Earlier felony convictions against Gray between 1998 and 2006 -- two for drug dealing and one for resisting arrest with violence -- led to his classification as an "armed career criminal" that makes him eligible for as much as a life sentence on the gun charge.

Gray is scheduled to be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. May 7 in federal court in Harrisonburg.

Frederick County Commonwealth's Attorney Ross Spicer said Gray will be transferred from federal custody to state custody for a court appearance 9 a.m. Feb. 28 in Winchester.

Spicer hinted the likelihood of a long prison sentence in the federal case increases the chances the felony eluding charge will not go to trial.

"We don't look at these things in a vacuum," Spicer said. "If someone is going to be pulling decades of time, regardless of location, it doesn't make sense to get a little more time added to that. There's no question we do consider a period of incarceration elsewhere in assessing what would be fair and justice in this particular case."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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