Getaway driver sentenced in attempted diner robbery
WOODSTOCK — The local woman who had been found guilty for her role in the robbery attempt of Ben’s Diner in town was sentenced to serve five years imprisonment on Friday.
Andrea Kristin Scalf, 44, was found guilty in June of being the getaway driver in the January attempted armed robbery of Ben’s Diner. She had also been the main conspirator in the crime, using her knowledge from formerly working at the diner and her teenage daughter working at the diner during the night of the robbery. Scalf was convicted of attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and child endangerment.
A sentencing hearing had been postponed to Friday after Scalf’s original attorney withdrew from the case because of statements Scalf made in the pre-sentence investigation report. Jill Curfman was appointed to represent Scalf as a result.
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola argued that Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp should set aside his not guilty verdict on the charge of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Campola contended that the gun was Scalf’s and that legal precedent shows that a defendant can be found guilty of the crime whether or not they had knowledge of the gun’s use. Hupp admitted an error in his ruling, stating that he based it on his inability to determine that Scalf knew of the gun’s use without a reasonable doubt, but that he could not go back on that ruling at sentencing.
Campola then argued that Leonard “Spoon” Garris and Andrew Shoemaker, the co-defendants that testified against Scalf at the bench trial, indicated that Scalf and Raymond Washington were the two who planned the robbery because Scalf knew that the owner collected a large amount of rent money there from various properties at the beginning of every month. Everyone involved was living in Scalf’s apartment at the time of the robbery and would have parties late into the night every night while Scalf’s children were there, Campola noted, pointing out that Scalf had no regard for her children’s safety.
Scalf’s mother testified on behalf of her daughter that Scalf was a great mother before developing an addiction to painkillers after a back injury, and that all of Scalf’s daughters are exceptionally talented in music, academics and athletics even with what their mother was going through. Campola noted in his argument that it was amazing that Scalf’s daughter, who was a victim in the case, has been able to do so well considering that she was in a house with criminals and late-night parties.
“The fact that she was able to excel in that environment was in spite of the defendant, not because of the defendant,” Campola said of Scalf’s daughter.
Campola also asked the court for a higher sentence departing from the state sentencing guidelines.
Curfman, Scalf’s attorney in this case, argued that Scalf entered a downward spiral after her injury, and that there were a lot of drugs involved at the time of the robbery attempt. Curfman said that the co-defendants took advantage of Scalf, and that the entirety of the blame for the crime should not be placed on her client.
“She allowed herself to become a pawn in this,” Curfman said, arguing that the men in Scalf’s life used her as a “convenient scapegoat” as well as a “bargaining chip,” given that their testimony granted them consideration from the prosecution on their own charges.
Curfman asked for a sentence at the low end of the guidelines, which would be one year and four months of incarceration. She also asked that the judge consider sending Scalf to the Friends of Guests House program in Alexandria that helps women re-enter society after incarceration.
Scalf used her opportunity to speak to the court to tearfully ask the judge to consider her four daughters in his sentencing. She expressed regret that her choices hurt them and that they witnessed their mother being intoxicated.
“The choices I made were solely influenced by drugs and alcohol,” Scalf told the court on Friday.
Hupp took about 20 minutes to consider the sentence. He said that the evidence was clear that Scalf was responsible for planning the robbery and putting her daughter’s life at risk in the process. Given those circumstances, Hupp said that a sentence that exceeds the guideline would be appropriate in this case.
Scalf was sentenced to serve five years of a 25-year prison sentence. She must also complete three years of supervised and two years of unsupervised probation upon her release. Scalf was also ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution to her daughter for counseling she received after the incident. A hearing was set for Dec. 20 in Shenandoah County Circuit Court for drug charges Scalf still faces in a separate case.