Copper thief owes $12,000 to Aileen owner

Restitution amount in the case of Austin Duane Settle, the 26-year-old Castleton resident convicted of committing six felonies at the former Aileen factory in Flint Hill, was set in Rappahannock County Circuit Court Thursday morning (Feb. 7).

Settle, who was previously convicted of two counts each of breaking and entering, grand larceny and destruction of property, was sentenced in January to 17 months in jail.

Summarizing evidence at that hearing, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said Settle entered the former factory last 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 materials worth around $600.

Settle was also ordered to pay restitution to current owner Alexander Sharp. However, Settle’s defense council Kevin Garrity had said he understood that some of the stolen materials had been recovered.

Thursday morning, Sharp testified that Settle had taken around 3,000 feet of copper cable and several brass fittings from two bathrooms. Sharp said he was seeking the scrap value of the wire that had not been recovered or replaced, which, at the time of the theft, was $3.05 per square foot at Wise Recycling, where Settle had sold it.

The total amount, including labor but not including 400-500 feet of copper sewer cable Settle had taken and Sharp had already replaced, came to $28,000.

“I do not believe Mr. Sharp is exaggerating his claims,” Goff told Judge Jeffrey W. Parker. “His claims are reasonable and it sounds like he’s not making claims on things he conceivably could claim.”

Garrity petitioned Parker for a smaller amount of restitution, noting that the price of copper and other materials fluctuates and that the exact value of the stolen materials was uncertain.

“I often set up smaller amounts [of restitution] for defendants so that they don’t fail in paying them off,” Parker said. “But I do want to see the victims in a crime made whole to the best of their abilities.”

Ultimately, Parker set the restitution at $12,000.

Three trial dates were also set in court Thursday morning, including one for Tammy Lynn Atkins, the Sperryville woman hired last year to care for the ailing former mayor of Washington. Atkins is now charged with 10 counts of felony embezzlement.

The separate charges span Dec. 24, 2011 through Sept. 4, 2012, when Atkins is alleged to have removed, according to sources familiar with the case, some $11,000 from the bank accounts of former mayor and longtime Washington resident Eugene Leggett, who died June 8, and his widow, Clarissa Leggett.

Atkins was hired by the Leggetts as a part-time caregiver in November 2011, according to a friend of the family who asked not to be identified, and worked for them until October 2012.

Atkins’ jury trial is scheduled for June 6.

A two-day jury trial was scheduled in the case against 37-year-old Bascom Darnell Jr. of Jeffersonton, who is charged with raping a woman through force or threat.

Darnell, who had previously undergone a mental health evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial and his sanity at the time of the alleged offense in November 2010, had his bond revoked in his last appearance before Parker after testing positive for cocaine use.

His trial is scheduled for May 2-3.

A trial date of Aug. 27 was set for 27-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Thompson, of Washington, who is charged with one count of unlawful use of a motor vehicle after she allegedly stole a 1989 blue and yellow Ford F-350 from the Rappahannock County School Board offices on July 27.

According to the incident report, Thompson drove the truck east onto U.S. 211 and was arrested shortly afterwards in Manassas by the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office. She previously underwent an exam to determine her competency to stand trial and was found capable.

Thompson will also undergo a psychological evaluation to determine her sanity at the time of the offense.

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