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Virginia men sentenced into diversion program

Two men convicted as part of a Virginia theft ring are the latest and final people to have been sentenced for their role in a string of burglaries at a variety of businesses and residences.

One man, 20, of Rocky Mount, Virginia, will spend 12 months in a diversion and detention center run by the state. He had received a 16-year sentence in Franklin County Circuit Court, but the judge suspended the prison time.

That man told the judge the five months he spent in jail pending sentencing helped him to get the upper hand in his fight with an addiction to prescription drugs. The judge said the program would be hard work to complete, but the man said he wants to fulfill the program, stay sober and be a father to his 1-year-old daughter.

He had been found guilty of a variety of burglary, trespassing and petit larceny charges, but the judge was willing to give him a second chance. If he cannot complete the program, however, he will receive the full sentence. He also was also sentenced to four years probation and to be on his best behavior for 20 years. He also must stay away from the other convicted members of the theft ring.

The second man, a 24-year-old also of Rocky Mount, must spend a year in the DOC center. He received a five-year sentence for single counts of grand larceny and petit larceny, but the time will be suspended if he finishes the program. He also will serve three years probation and complete eight years of good behavior.

In all, five people have received sentences as part of the theft ring.

The two most recently sentenced men are proof that a conviction is not an automatic jail sentence. The state does give judges the ability to tailor sentences to offenders whom they think can lead productive lives out of prison if given opportunities and training to do so.

Source: The Franklin News-Post, "Last two theft ring members sentenced to detention center," K.A. Wagoner, July 23, 2012

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