Aileen plant copper thief pleads guilty

A 26-year-old Castleton man pleaded guilty to six felony charges – two counts of breaking and entering, two counts of grand larceny and two counts of destruction of property – in Rappahannock County Circuit Court Tuesday (Oct. 23).

Summarizing evidence for the court, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said Austin Duane Settle entered the former Aileen factory Feb. 13 and removed copper wires from the walls and brass fittings from what used to be an employee bathroom, damaging the walls and fixtures in the process. Settle briefly stored the parts in Castleton before selling them at Wise Recycling in Culpeper for $1,120.

Goff said Settle did this a second time a few days later, taking around $600 worth of material. Settle was originally charged with 12 felonies; as part of his plea agreement, the other six charges were dropped. He will be sentenced on Jan. 22.

Two other Castleton men – one charged with counterfeiting bank notes and the other with grand larceny – also pleaded guilty last Thursday (Oct. 18).

Paul Owen Fincham, 28, was charged with multiple counts of forgery after police discovered the funds he had given Culpeper resident Robert Corbin in payment of a debt – four $50 bills and three $10 bills – turned out to be counterfeit. Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Capt. J.C. Welch and Secret Service agents searched Fincham’s home and discovered a printer and more counterfeit bills.

Earlier this month, Judge Jeffrey W. Parker delayed action on Fincham’s guilty pleas to decide whether the counterfeiting charges should be consolidated into a single all-inclusive offense. Parker said he’d reviewed precedents and decided on separate charges, accepting Fincham’s plea. Fincham, free on bond, will be sentenced Jan. 3.

Dustin Samuel Miller, 21, pleaded guilty to three counts of grand larceny. Summarizing the evidence against him, Goff said Miller and an accomplice – Shane Herndon, who was sentenced July 9 to two years in prison (suspended) and 18 months of supervised probation – stole a Honda ATV and dirt bike, scrap metal, copper and aluminum from the property of James Mills in February. Goff also said that Miller cooperated fully with police, including aiding in the recovery of the vehicles, and recommended probation instead of jail time.

Judge Parker told Miller that he found the larcenies “troubling,” and was tempted to overlook Goff’s recommendation and sentence Miller to jail time. He ultimately sentenced Miller to three years in jail (suspended), two years of supervised probation, 80 hours of community service and entry into the Restorative Justice Program, and set a payment schedule for restitution to Mills. Miller must pay Mills at least $500 every six months until the full debt of $2,371 is repaid.

“If you come back in my courtroom again, you can expect to do that time,” Parker warned Miller afterwards.

Ashleigh Renee Baldwin, the 22-year-old Chester Gap resident charged with five counts of possessing schedule II drugs and one count of child abuse, pleaded guilty to all charges. Goff said that James Daniel Wines’ 7-year-old son, who lives with Baldwin and Wines, told police about drug abuse taking place in the home Baldwin shares with Wines.

A March 2 search by Capt. Welch turned up various drug paraphernalia including straws, tubes and hypodermic needles – each used to ingest hydromorphone, oxymorphone and morphine, Goff said. Police also discovered a pill grinder. Baldwin is currently out on bond and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 14.

Stevie Junior Settle, 40, of Rixeyville was found guilty Tuesday (Oct. 23) of violating his probation, including possession of heroin, testing positive for opiates and not informing his parole officer of his whereabouts. Judge Burke F. McCahill said he was glad that Settle wanted to join a work-release program and help support his family, but reminded him, “You’re no good to yourself or your family if you’re on heroin. It’s that simple.”

McCahill then reimposed six months of a previously suspended 19-month sentence, and placed Settle on two years of supervised probation upon his release.

William Jordan Thorn, 31, of Reva, was found guilty Tuesday of failure to report to Rappahannock County Jail. Thorn had been ordered by Judge Parker to report by 8 p.m. on July 6; Thorn appeared in circuit court July 5 and asked for a week-long extension so that he could be with his family until their electric power, knocked out during the derecho storm, was restored.

Thorn, already serving time in Rappahannock County Jail on other charges, was found guilty by Judge McCahill, who added a previously suspended one-month sentence to his jail term.