Front Royal man sentenced in heroin distribution case

James Anthony Rawlings

FRONT ROYAL — A local man was sentenced Monday to serve one year and six months on a heroin distribution charge he was convicted on in July.

James Anthony Rawlings, 22, was found guilty of heroin distribution after a bench trial before Circuit Judge James Lane, where Rawlings was found to have sold heroin to a confidential informant in December 2015 for $150.

During Monday’s hearing, Rawlings’ mother testified that her son suffered a serious brain injury when he was 2 years old that makes it difficult for him to process certain information, and makes it easy for others to manipulate him. She also said that Rawlings had been diagnosed to have the mentality of an 8-year-old child.

Rawlings’ attorney, Martin Scheller, emphasised that his client had “limited intellectual abilities,” as the report from the competency evaluation in this case detailed. Scheller also pointed out that the sentencing guidelines in this case recommend Rawlings for alternative punishment, and suggested home electronic monitoring for a period of time the court found acceptable.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Fleming, noted that Rawlings has prior misdemeanor convictions, and that the charge in this case involved heroin, which has been a problem in the area. Fleming also said that Rawlings never accepted responsibility for the crime according to the pre-sentence investigation, and that Rawlings continued to blame the confidential informant for setting him up.

Lane sentenced Rawlings to serve one year and six months of a five year sentence, and he must complete three years of supervised probation upon his release. Rawlings asked the judge to reconsider home electronic monitoring, but Lane, acknowledging that Rawlings has some mental difficulties, said that he gave Rawlings a fairly light sentence as is. Lane also denied Rawlings’ request for delayed reporting to jail, adding that wanting to say goodbye to friends and family is not a legitimate reason.