Man pleads to trying to destroy drugs in search

FRONT ROYAL – A town man pleaded guilty Monday to drug and obstruction charges that occurred during a response to an overdose call at his home in March.

Michael Antonio Craig Sr. appeared in Warren County Circuit Court with his attorney Howard Manheimer for a scheduled hearing to appoint counsel. However, Manheimer and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond presented a plea agreement in the case to Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr.

The agreement called for Craig to plead guilty to one count each of possession of a controlled substance, possession of crack cocaine and obstruction of justice or resisting arrest.

Athey accepted the agreement and found Craig guilty on all three charges. The judge sentenced Craig to serve four months in jail on the possession of a controlled substance charge. Craig received suspended sentences for the other two charges. Athey ordered Craig to complete two years of supervised probation.

A grand jury indicted Craig, 33, of Front Royal, on the three counts barely two weeks earlier on Aug. 20.

Athey said he accepted the plea agreement because it included a recommended punishment that fell within the sentencing guidelines, and he found the deal compatible with the public interest.

Athey said to Craig that he hoped the punishment would help the defendant deal with his drug problem.

Officers with the Front Royal Police Department responded to a 911 call on Massanutten Avenue and found a woman suffering from an overdose, Hammond told the judge as part of her summary of the evidence the prosecutor would have presented had the case gone to trial.

An officer encountered Craig in an apartment heating up a crack pipe, Hammond said. The officer asked Craig to stop and the defendant smashed the pipe on a bathroom sink in an attempt to destroy evidence, the prosecutor said. Craig then proceeded to snort powder cocaine from the edge of the sink. Officers tried to apprehend Craig and at one point lay on top of him in the bathtub, Hammond said.

Officers took Craig into custody. At one point, officers discovered a small bag of powder cocaine in Craig’s pants pocket, Hammond said.

The prosecutor’s office did not have state forensic laboratory test results obtained from the suspected drugs found in the apartment, Hammond said. However, the defense stipulated that the substances were illegal drugs, she noted. Manheimer said his client concurred that Hammond’s summary would be the commonwealth’s evidence had the case gone to trial.