Judge suspends sentence
An Elkins woman convicted of embezzling more than $100,000 from an Elkins business had the remainder of her jail sentence suspended Wednesday in Randolph County Circuit Court.
Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong suspended 38-year-old Rogina Faye Helmick’s one-to-10-year prison sentence and imposed a five-year period of supervised probation after Helmick’s attorney, James Hawkins, filed a motion for reconsideration.
According to a previous report, Helmick allegedly stole $107,956.46 over a two-year period from her then-employer, Select In-Home Services. Helmick pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement on April 5, 2012.
Hawkins said that Helmick had paid $3,833 in restitution since June 2012.
“This is a person who will do everything in her ability to make this matter right,” Hawkins said, noting that Helmick had no criminal history and “good family support.”
Hawkins said that in order for his client to expedite that rate at which she could pay restitution, she needed to be out of prison and gainfully employed.
“How long has she been incarcerated?” Wilfong asked Hawkins.
“Seven months,” he said.
“The concern I have and have had is that time she’s incarcerated needs to be equal to the seriousness of the offense,” Wilfong said. “I’m going to suspend the remainder of her sentence and put her on a five-year period of supervised release.”
Addressing Helmick, Wilfong said, “I want you to know that the reason I’m doing this is because I want you to have the opportunity to pay restitution, and that restitution must be consistently and regularly paid.”
Also on Wednesday:
– Samantha Ashley Armentrout, 22, of Elkins, appeared for a bond violation hearing; Armentrout’s bond had been set at $50,000 cash, property or surety. However, Armentrout allegedly violated her bond Dec. 26 by returning home – rather than reporting to jail – after she was kicked out of a drug rehabilitation program.
Armentrout’s attorney, William T. Nestor, said Armentrout was accused of leaving the premises of the rehab center to go to an adjacent homeless shelter.
“She got scared and she took bad advice and she went home,” Nestor said. “It’s not like she went to Tuscaloosa, Ala.or San Francisco, Calif..”
Wilfong modified bond to $50,000 cash only.
“A condition of her bond was that if she was discharged from rehab in any manner, she was to go to jail,” Wilfong said. “But she didn’t go to jail; she went home.”
Armentrout was indicted on three felony counts of wanton endangerment involving a firearm, two felony counts of assault during the commission of or attempt to commit a felony, two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and two felony count of conspiracy to commit possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. Armentrout allegedly shot Timothy Meyers Jr. in the back near his right shoulder blade on May 31; Armentrout had allegedly been attempting to demonstrate that a pistol was unloaded, according to a previous report.
– Joe Michael Bragg, 27, an inmate at McDowell County Correctional Facility, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of conspiracy, in exchange for the state dismissing three remaining felony counts of conspiracy.
Bragg is a co-defendant of Brian Allen Simpkins, 29, a Northern Correctional Facility inmate. Bragg and Simpkins were involved in an elaborate plot to smuggle illegal drugs, tobacco, lighters and other controlled substances into Huttonsville Correctional Facility in April 2011; the two were inmates at Huttonsville at the time.
The three individuals who attempted to transport the contraband to Bragg and Simpkins – Henry Martin Woody, 26, of Nitro; Karena Davis, 32, of Nitro; and Sara Lynette Cantrell, 33, of Lesage – were sentenced in October and November.
Wilfong asked Bragg why he was opting to plead guilty.
“For one, I am guilty,” Bragg replied, “and also, there were other people involved who didn’t play as big of a role and never had a criminal record, and they received pretty stiff punishments.
“I don’t want to be the one to back away from when it’s pretty much me that did it,” he said.
The penalty for felony conspiracy is one to five years in the state penitentiary. Bragg’s sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 8.
– Valerie Jacque McIntyre, 23, of Elkins, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy; in return, the state dismissed the remaining charges pending against her, which included two felony counts of conspiracy and three felony counts of delivery of a controlled substance.
When Wilfong asked what she did that made her guilty of conspiracy, McIntyre said she called a confidential informant to see if he was on his way to pick up the cocaine her boyfriend – Robert Lee Scott – was allegedly selling.
“So you were making a call on behalf of Mr. Scott, who was selling cocaine?” Wilfong asked.
“Yes,” McIntyre replied.
The penalty for felony conspiracy is one to five years in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $10,000; McIntyre’s sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 8.
– Scott, 33, of Elkins, was taken into custody after violating his bond by testing positive for marijuana and suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate addiction, and failing to check in with Randolph County Community Corrections.
Scott was previously indicted on four felony counts of delivery of a controlled substance and three felony counts of conspiracy, and appeared in court Wednesday morning for a pre-trial conference.
At that time, Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker and Scott’s attorney, James Hawkins, said they were on the cusp of tendering a plea agreement that had not been “fully consummated” to the court.
Wilfong continued the conference until the afternoon; however, in the interim, McIntyre’s testimony that Scott was selling cocaine – as well as additional discovery Parker provided to Hawkins that afternoon -spurred Hawkins to ask that the pre-trial conference be continued until 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Wilfong granted the request and, noting Scott’s positive drug test results, ordered that his bond be adjusted to $10,000 cash only.
– Stacy James Wise, 23, of Elkins was placed on 10 years of intensive post-release supervision after Wilfong agreed to suspend his sentence of one to five years in the state penitentiary.
Wise pleaded guilty to one felony count of third-degree sexual assault in September.
At his sentencing hearing in November, Wilfong instructed Wise’s attorney, Richard Shryock, to file a motion for reconsideration of the one-to-five-year sentence.
Shryock told the judge the time Wise had served in prison “has given him much-needed perspective.”
“He’s had quite a rough time, being away from his family during the holidays,” he said. “(Wise) had to be moved several times because of threats made against him. And I believe he’s genuinely remorseful.”
Wilfong said she’d asked Shryock to file the motion for reconsideration of Wise’s sentence because she had planned to grant it.
– Wilfong granted a continuance in the case of 62-year-old Richard Clive Devine, who was previously indicted on first-degree sexual assault, among other charges, as part of a 16-count indictment.
Devine’s attorney, James Hawkins, said that given “the very serious nature of the case,” he felt he needed to partner with a co-counselor to mount a proper defense; however, the two attorneys he had asked to help him – Christopher Cooper and Dorwin Wolfe – each had a conflict of interest and recused themselves from the case.
Wilfong granted the motion and appointed attorney Russell Stobbs to assist Hawkins.
Parker told the judge that it was unlikely the prosecution and defense would reach a plea agreement.
“I think this is going to be resolved through trial, rather than through an agreement,” Parker said. Devine’s three-day trial has been scheduled for March 20-22.
– David Hartley, 33, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of entering without breaking. Hartley confessed to removing “junk” to sell as scrap metal from a Highland Park residence on May 24, 2012, and June 26, 2012.
Each count carries a possible penalty of two to 10 years in the state penitentiary; sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 8.
– Louis James Thurston, 65, a former inmate at Huttonsville Correctional Facility, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of battery on a government representative. Thurston confessed that he had “argued and fought with a correction officer” on June 5, 2012, at Huttonsville while he was experiencing a bout of depression.
The possible penalty for battery on a government representative is up to one year in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $500. Thurston’s sentencing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 21.
Defendants who have not pleaded guilty are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.