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Farley receives added jail time in misdemeanor case

South Boston News
Farley
SoVaNow.com / August 19, 2019
Kathy Farley of Halifax, currently serving the fourth year of a five-year federal prison term for wire fraud and tax evasion as disgraced president of Cherokee Tobacco Company, was back in town Friday to stand trial on a separate offense: misdemeanor fraud, from the disputed sale of two kitchen freezers.

Farley entered an Alford plea, in which she acknowledged sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction against her, and was found guilty in Halifax County Circuit Court of a single misdemeanor charge of obtaining money by false pretenses. Circuit Judge Donald Blessing of Farmville presided over the case.

Blessing imposed a 12-month jail sentence, with three months active jail time. The judge suspended the remainder of her 12-month term.

The case involves two freezer units that Farley sold to an out-of-town buyer on a Facebook yard sale site in May 2015 as she was awaiting trial on federal charges stemming from her tenure at Cherokee Tobacco. The prosecution argued, and the judge agreed, that Farley defrauded the purchaser by withholding the promised freezers and transferring them to another individual.

No restitution was involved in the case as Farley refunded the $300 sale price to the buyer — but only after she failed to deliver the items for two weeks, and only when she was confronted by police, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin.

Martin said her office sought the maximum punishment against Farley because the incident revealed a lack of contrition even as she stood accused of defrauding millions from her former employer, Cherokee Tobacco, and sister company Firebird Manufacturing, while also cheating the federal government out of millions of dollars in cigarette excise taxes.

Farley was found guilty in 2015 of four federal charges in U.S. District Court in Danville and ordered to serve 60 months in prison. The judge who heard the case also set restitution of $4.7 million, acknowledging that Farley would likely be unable to ever pay the money back.

“This defendant defrauded innocent, individual victims out of more than a million of dollars of income, and the federal government even more so,” said Martin of the case. “While those matters were pending, she chose to commit yet another act of fraud.

“Although the amount defrauded [in the misdemeanor case] was substantially less than the millions for which she was prosecuted federally, it represents the same, repeated criminal behavior,” stated Martin.

To stand trial in Halifax, Farley required transport from Alderson, W. Va., with two deputies dispatched to pick her up from the minimum security federal camp nearly four hours away. Farley was checked into the Halifax jail on Aug. 1. She has since been taken by county deputies back to the West Virginia facility to continue serving out her federal sentence of 60 months, imposed in January 2016.

Martin said her office had intended to try the local charge against Farley once she got out of federal prison, and opted against seeking extradition while she was housed at a Florida corrections facility. However, once Farley was transferred to the Alderson, W.Va. federal camp, circumstances changed.

According to Martin, Farley filed a demand under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IAD) to compel a trial on the charge in Halifax. “In doing so, she negated our ability to simply wait to prosecute her when the federal system was done with her. This would have been our preference,” said Martin.

“Instead, the Commonwealth had to choose whether to extradite her or to allow the case to be dismissed altogether, forever …. The choice was clear: Knowing the Sheriff’s Office would retrieve prisoners from far corners of our Commonwealth at [a four-hour] distance, how could we decline prosecution just because we could not be bothered to go get her?”

According to the account of the case offered by Martin, Blessing, in handing down Farley’s sentence, stated, “While the feds have had their punishment, Halifax has to have its punishment, too.” Martin attributed the quotation to assistant prosecutor Anna Bowen, who presented the Commonwealth’s evidence on Friday.

Farley’s defense attorney, Michael Freshour of South Boston, said the description of Blessing’s comment was essentially accurate. He said of the outcome at trial, “We weren’t really happy with the three months [active jail time] but it’s the judge’s decision and we understand that.”

Freshour noted, however, that “the money [involved] had been returned to the alleged victim before any charges were taken out” and “I thought the outcome was a little bit harsh.” As for his client’s decision to force the trial in Halifax, “Ms. Farley wanted to put an end to it and get on with her life.”

Farley’s decision to offer an Alford plea of guilt, Freshour added, was prompted by the refusal of the Commonwealth to amend the original plea from a felony to a misdemeanor without first obtaining a guilty plea from the defendant.

Farley was originally charged with a felony offense, owing to the State of Virginia’s $200 threshold at the time for charging a felony property crime. In 2018, state law was changed to raise the felony threshold to $500.

Farley will serve half of the proscribed three-month sentence, a sum total of 45 days, after getting out of the federal system, said Freshour.

As for the costs of bringing the case, Freshour estimated that the deputies’ time and travel expenses involved in escorting Farley to and from West Virginia will cost the Sheriff’s Office upwards a thousand dollars, while the cost of incarcerating her at the Halifax jail is $81.05 per day. By the time she is finished serving her local sentence, the incarceration cost will total $4,863, he estimated.

Of that sum, the share borne by local taxpayers is 52 percent — a sum Freshour pegged at slightly more than $2,500.



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Comments

Thanks alot for costing us $2500 after she paid the money back.

Comments

Alternative sentencing? If five year federal sentence doesn’t serve as deterrent from committing future crimes, 45 days will not. In many cases punishment fails while rehabilitation works. Bowen statement, “While the feds have had their punishment, Halifax has to have its punishment, too,” is disturbing. If fedl court has punished Farley why hasn’t state court (Halifax) tried to rehabilitate her? After all, she will return as a resident. Sentencing isn’t always jail. Community services - Farley could’ve spoken to organizations/students about her life choices and lessons learned. After entering Alford plea, why didn’t both sides agree to present alternative sentencing to judge? Now taxpayers will pay $2,500+ for 45 day jail term. It’s sad when things are done in judicial system because it can be, and not because it was weighed and serves the PEOPLE’S best interest/safety. A reminder of another broken campaign promise and wasted taxpayer dollars.

Comments

From having followed this story from the beginning and after reading this article, it seems to me that Halifax County is getting more than a "pound of flesh." I find myself wondering if someone has a personal axe to grind here and is using the legal system to do so. I think community service would be useful and redeeming. Stop wasting the money of taxpayers!

Comments

Great comments. The pivate prison system are promised x number of inmates each year. That is why Farley is not going to do community service. The private for profit prison system requires that the co7nty send people to them so they can charge the county. Talk about a questionable arrangement. Id like to see Newsand Record look into this.
It is deeply disturbing that Bowen uttered those words. You have inmates running the asylum.
See we are building a overpriced courthouse sp everyone will go to jail to pay for it.


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