Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong told a 19-year-old Elkins man Thursday he has a new lease on life after accepting a pre-trial diversion agreement that could potentially result in felony charges against him being dropped in Randolph County Circuit Court.
Michael Jay Moore, 19, of Elkins was indicted in June on seven felony counts of forgery, seven felony counts of uttering and one felony count of fraudulent use of an access device. The charges stem from an incident in which Moore allegedly wrote seven checks totaling $738.21 from a checkbook belonging to his grandparents, Okey and Faye Moore, and passed them, Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said.
On Thursday, Parker requested a pre-trial diversion, meaning that the charges against Moore will be dropped after a 24-month period if he adheres to a certain set of guidelines. According to the agreement, Moore must pay $738.21 in restitution to the victims; remain in contact with his attorney, Christopher Cooper; attend school or maintain gainful employment; and obey all federal, state and municipal laws.
Parker said he believed a pre-trial diversion was appropriate not only because the victims were on board with it, but also "because of the youthful age of the defendant, because of how well he's been doing while on bond, the fact that he's been doing community service and participating in the (Randolph County) Community Corrections even though he wasn't required to."
"I couldn't think of an individual who's done better, and I do feel that a pre-trial diversion is the appropriate path to take," Parker added.
Wilfong accepted the pre-trial diversion agreement between Parker and Cooper, and dismissed the charges against Moore without prejudice, meaning that they can be brought up again in court if he fails to adhere to the conditions outlined in the agreement.
"You're leaving with a clean criminal record," Wilfong told Moore. "If you'd had a felony conviction, your life would have been seriously altered. I think you're a good person; I just think you made a bad decision."
Wilfong cautioned Moore that if he violates any part of the pre-trial diversion agreement, he could find himself back in court.
"If you mess up, the prosecuting attorney has the discretion to bring these charges up again in this court," Wilfong said.
Moore had been set to sign on to a plea agreement Sept. 25, in which he was going to plead guilty to one felony count of forgery, according to a previous report. However, when Wilfong was in the midst of reviewing the plea agreement with Moore, Parker asked to approach the bench and requested a continuance. Parker said Thursday that he had asked for the continuance so that the parties involved could have more time to reach an alternative solution.
Also on Thursday, Benjamin William Cottrell, 29, of Elkins was sentenced to one year in prison for petit larceny, a misdemeanor, and one to five years for one felony count of failure to register as a sex offender or provide notice of registration changes. The sentences will run consecutively. Wilfong also ordered Cottrell to pay restitution for the petit larceny conviction and awarded him credit for time served.
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