Tammy Lynn Atkins, the Washington woman hired to care for an ailing former mayor of Washington in 2011, pleaded guilty to six felony counts of embezzlement Thursday morning (June 6) in Rappahannock County Circuit Court, and was led in tears from the courtroom to the county jail.
The 42-year-old Atkins was hired in 2011 by Clarissa Leggett to care for Leggett and her ailing husband, former mayor and longtime Washington resident Eugene Leggett, who died in June 2012. Atkins was originally charged with 10 counts of felony embezzlement but four charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement reached before Thursday’s court session.
Summarizing evidence for the court, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said that Atkins was hired by Leggett for a number of duties, which included opening mail, cleaning the house and paying the bills. As part of her employment, Goff said, Atkins received access to Clarissa Leggett’s checkbook, which further enabled her to access Leggett’s bank accounts and ATM card.
Goff said that Atkins began accessing Leggett’s accounts without her permission in January, 2012, stealing funds every month through June – $1,000 in February, $1,250 in March, $650 in April, $800 in May and $2,700 in June.
Eventually, Goff said family members noticed the constant activity with the accounts and reported the discrepancy to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office. Goff said RCSO investigator J.C. Welch interviewed Atkins last fall, where she confessed to stealing the money in an effort to help pay off her mortgage, which she claimed she was three months behind on.
Atkins had previously been released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond, which Goff asked Judge Jeffrey Parker to revoke in light of her guilty plea and the sheer number of charges. “This is not the first time she’s been accused of thievery,” said Goff, referring to two previous charges in Fauquier County, including one count of shoplifting. “I believe she has a great risk of reoffending.”
Amanda Zadrozny, Atkins’ defense counsel, implored Parker to allow Atkins to remain free, pointing out that Atkins brought a $2,000 cashier’s check to court Thursday morning to begin the restitution process.
Zadrozny also produced letters from Atkins’ current employers, many “members of the community,” indicating their “full knowledge” of her felony charges and their willingness to continue employing her.
Parker agreed with Goff’s arguments, however, revoking Atkins’ bond and remanding her into custody at Rappahannock County Jail, a decision which reduced Atkins to tears.
Atkins’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27. Each embezzlement charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and would be run consecutively, meaning Atkins faces up to 120 years in prison.
Brenda Holly Lyons-Lenchick, half of the Castleton couple convicted of abuse and cruelty charges, was sentenced to two years in jail in Rappahannock County Circuit Court Wednesday morning (June 12).
Lyons-Lenchick pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and neglect and one count of neglect with the intent to maim on March 11. She was interviewed by Capt. J.C. Welch of the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) on May 23, where she admitted to Welch that she intentionally starved one of her children, known only as KJL, and intended to bury him next to her grandfather in Pennsylvania, but changed her mind after receiving a phone call from KJL’s doctor’s office.
Lyons-Lenchick also told Welch that she did nothing after her husband removed leg casts from the couple’s three-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy. Dr. Mark Romness, who was treating the daughter at the time, said the casts were precursors to metal braces that could have allowed her eventually to be more mobile, and that removing them could have caused “irrevocable harm.”
Wednesday morning, Goff petitioned Judge Donald Haddock to exceed the sentencing guidelines in this case, calling it the sort of crime that “shocks the conscience of the community. Her statement was that she ‘gave up’ . . . that’s almost too callous to believe.”
Goff conceded that Lyons-Lenchick was under pressure in caring for three special-needs children, being the only licensed driver and needing to drive husband Joseph Anthony Lenchick to various job interviews. “I concede there is some mitigation there . . . but that doesn’t excuse what she did.”
Margaret Remish, Lyons-Lenchick’s younger sister, testified on behalf of her older sister, pointing that Lyons-Lenchick has raised other children who are “happy, productive members of society.” Remish added that she had let Lyons-Lenchick watch her own son, something she never would have done if she truly believed Lyons-Lenchick would have hurt him.
“She doesn’t deserve what’s going to happen to her,” Remish said.
Peter Hansen, Lyons-Lenchick’s defense counsel, argued that Lyons-Lenchick “had already been punished” by, most likely, never getting to see her children again and implored Judge Haddock to follow the sentencing guidelines.
“These were not ‘cold’ and ‘calculating’ actions,” Hansen said, “but the result of a breakdown. She lost the will to carry on . . . Child services didn’t rescue this child; the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office didn’t rescue this child – she took [KJL] to the doctor herself. She made the decision to save this child.”
Judge Haddock sentenced Lyons-Lenchick to 15 years in jail for the three charges but suspended 13 years. Haddock also placed her on five years of supervised probation and barred her from contacting her children, pending the results of a parental rights hearing.
Castleton resident Holly Marie Yake received two years of probation Thursday morning after pleading guilty to two counts of possession (of oxycodone and heroin) on March 11.
At her March hearing, Goff said that Deputy Koglin pulled Yake’s car over on Oct. 19 and noticed “a faint smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle.” Koglin and his canine unit searched the car and found a small plastic bag with oxycodone and a metal spoon with traces of heroin on it. Judge Parker sentenced Yake, 26, to two years of probation, with one year being supervised.
Thirty-eight-year-old Stuart William Kasin, of Charlotte, N.C., had 90 days of a previously suspended sentence imposed after failing to produce any of the $65,238 he owes in restitution to Amissville resident Virginia Raney.
Kasin was found guilty of embezzlement involving Raney’s coin collection back in June, 2012. At that time, Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin ordered Kasin to pay the full amount of restitution within six months, cautioning him that failure to do so could result in the revoking of all or part of his suspended prison sentence.
Thursday, Kasin testified that he had furniture valued at $20,000 in a storage container in North Carolina; Kasin said he intended to sell the furniture and use the proceeds toward restitution, but that he was unable to access the container until he paid off a $10,000 debt to the facility owner.
Kasin also presented Judge Parker with a receipt for $10,000 he had borrowed from a family member several days prior and said he intended to use that money as restitution.
Nonetheless, Parker reimposed 90 days of Kasin’s previously suspended prison time, citing his continual court appearances (absent restitution funds). “You’ve gone on and on with promises made, Mr. Kasin,” Parker said. “Frankly, the court is sick and tired of it.”
Before remanding him to Rappahannock County Jail, Parker also ordered Kasin to pay $9,500 of restitution “forthwith.”
Kathryn Marie Whitney, a 58-year-old California resident, also had time from a previously suspended prison sentence imposed Thursday after violating her parole by failing to pay her $3,000 of restitution on time. Whitney was found guilty of two counts of grand larceny in 2010 and sentenced to 15 months in jail.
Whitney, who has also faced charges in California, Culpeper and other surrounding counties, apologized for her crimes and vowed to change her ways.
“I don’t want to be a parasite on Virginia,” Whitney said. “If I get a roof over my head and a job, you’ll see the real Kathryn Whitney.”
“You always present yourself well,” said Parker. “But presenting well doesn’t get you off the hook.” Parker then reimposed a previously suspended 33 months, resuspending all but 15 months.
On Tuesday, June 4, the Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gang Task Force, in conjunction with the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office, executed a narcotics search warrant at the home of D’Angelo Aasian Robinson. Investigators said items seized from the residence included approximately three ounces of marijuana (worth $975), prescription medications, digital scales, electronic devices and a smoking device.
The 19-year-old Robinson was arrested at his home on Bailey Lane in Amissville, and charged with three misdemeanor counts of distribution of marijuana (which were dropped at his arraignment this Tuesday in District Court), plus felony possession with the intent to distribute and felony child endangerment. Investigators said the child endangerment charge was made after they arrived at his home in the late morning on June 4 and found a sibling under the age of 13 at the home, unsupervised.
On May 24, Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert L. Fincham arrested and charged Chester Gap resident Chris Adam Foster with one felony count of unlawfully entering or being present during a school-related or school-sponsored activity after being convicted of a sexually violent offense. Foster’s arrest occurred at Rappahannock County High School’s graduation ceremony.
That same day, while conducting a traffic detail in the area of Sperryville Pike, Deputy Matthew Cody Dodson encountered a vehicle driven by Ronald Kenneth Melson. Melson was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, consuming alcohol while driving a motor vehicle, driving without a license and displaying a license plate belonging to another vehicle.
On May 31, wanted fugitive Thomas Roy Berry, of Castleton, was taken into custody without incident. Berry was served with three outstanding warrants for aggravated sexual battery.
Also on May 31, Sgt. D. Stevens arrested Castleton resident Christopher Kevin Hitt, and charged him with misdemeanor driving under the influence (his second offense within 10 years) and driving with a revoked operator’s license. Hitt’s arrest came as the result of a traffic stop for speeding.