Judge sentences last defendant in diner robbery attempt

Leonard Garris

WOODSTOCK – The last of several co-defendants charged in the attempted armed robbery of Ben’s Diner last year received a prison sentence Friday.

Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced Leonard “Spoon” Garris Jr. in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to a total of four years of incarceration for his role in the attempted robbery on Jan. 6, 2017 and two unrelated drug distribution charges.

Hupp accepted a plea agreement reached between the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and Garris’ attorney, Brad Pollack. The agreement called for Garris to plead guilty to two counts of distribution of drugs and one count of attempted armed robbery. Hupp sentenced Garris to 13 years with all but three years and six months of the time suspended. Garris also received an additional six months to serve because he violated the terms of his probation imposed in a previous conviction.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley provided a proffer of the evidence in Garris’ drug cases. Garris participated in controlled drug purchases conducted by law enforcement using a confidential informant on June 30, 2016 and Dec. 24, 2016, according to Wiseley’s evidence. Pollack did not object to the proffer.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola presented the proffer of the evidence in the attempted armed robbery. The incident transpired around 8 p.m. Jan. 6, 2017 when the co-defendants entered the Woodstock business and one of the suspects brandished a firearm while demanding money. Garris did not display the firearm, Campola said.

Authorities arrested Garris two days after the incident. Garris cooperated with investigators and also testified as a witness for the prosecution at the trial for one of the co-defendants.

Hupp pointed out when determining the sentence that Garris helped the prosecution as a cooperating witness.

Hupp granted the commonwealth’s motion to dismiss Garris’ remaining five counts of distribution of drugs, two counts of distribution of marijuana, a second charge of attempted armed robbery and one count each of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and the wearing of masks in certain places.

The judge ordered Garris to serve five years of supervised probation upon his release from incarceration and to pay $200 in restitution to Virginia State Police as agreed upon by both parties.

Hupp sentenced co-conspirator Andrea Kristin Scalf to serve five years in prison for acting as the getaway driver in the attempted armed robbery. The court found Scalf guilty last June of attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and for one count of child endangerment.

Authorities also accused Scalf of serving as the main conspirator in the attempted robbery because she used her experience as a former employee of the business and her daughter who worked at the diner the night of the incident. However, Hupp acquitted Scalf on one count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony even though Campola argued she owned the gun and a defendant can be found guilty of the crime whether or not they knew about gun’s use. Hupp admitted to erring in the ruling but said he couldn’t reverse his decision at sentencing.

Campola also argued at Scalf’s sentencing that Garris and co-defendant Andrew Bradley Shoemaker, both of whom testified against her at the bench trial, indicated that she and Raymond Lamar Washington planned the robbery.

Hupp sentenced Scalf to serve five years of a 25-year prison sentence, complete three years of supervised probation and two years of unsupervised probation upon her release. Hupp also ordered Scalf to pay $1,500 in restitution to her daughter for counseling she received after the incident.

The judge also sentenced Scalf on Dec. 20 to five years, all time suspended, for the Dec. 24, 2016 drug distribution charge.

Hupp sentenced Washington on Dec. 6 to 10 years with seven years suspended for one count of attempted armed robbery; 10 years, all suspended, for a second count of the same offense; three years for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony; five years, all suspended, for wearing a mask in certain places; and five years for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.

Shoemaker received a three-year suspended sentence Nov. 3 for one count of attempted armed robbery. The court dismissed his remaining charges of use of a firearm in the commission of the felony and a second count of attempted armed robbery. Shoemaker also was sentenced Nov. 3 to three years with six months suspended for a conviction of carnal knowledge of a 13 or 14-year-old without force.