Guilty plea in Sperryville credit card fraud

A Culpeper man chose to forgo his scheduled trial and instead pleaded guilty to two felony charges in Rappahannock County Circuit Court Thursday morning (July 17).

Rudy Gomez-Santoya, 25, pleaded guilty to credit card fraud and using a credit card without the card owner’s permission. Summarizing evidence for the court, Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff said that last Aug. 1, Gomez-Santoya entered the Sperryville bedroom of his then-employer John Kiser, and proceeded to rummage through the drawers looking for cash.

Though Gomez-Santoya found none, Goff said he eventually discovered Kiser’s wallet and credit card, which he stole and used to pay off a $500 car payment. Kiser noticed the charge on Aug. 9, Goff said, at which point he confronted Gomez-Santoya, who promptly admitted to the theft and offered to repay Kiser in cash.

Gomez-Santoya later told the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office that he stole the card because he was “financially desperate,” Goff said. Though there were other items missing from Kiser’s bedroom, Gomez-Santoya denied taking them, Goff added.

Gomez-Santoya’s defense counsel, Scott Seguin, argued for a $1,000 bond, telling Judge Jeffrey W. Parker that even though Gomez-Santoya was an illegal immigrant, he qualified for American citizenship, works full time and has never missed an appointment with his probation officer, thereby making him a minimal flight risk.

Gomez-Santoya is currently on probation in Culpeper County, Seguin said, because of a larceny charge involving stolen jewelry. That didn’t sit well with Parker, who raised the bond to $5,000. “That makes the stakes a little more significant,” Parker added.

Tuesday morning (July 22), Clayton Keith Arnold Jr., 24, of Front Royal, pleaded guilty to one count of possession (LSD) and, because of his previously clean criminal record, received first-offender status on the charge.

Goff said that Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Christopher Koglin pulled over a red Honda for speeding on Richmond Road on March 2. Koglin detected a marijuana odor coming from the car, Goff said, which Arnold, the passenger, admitted to smoking.

When asked, Arnold also produced a cigarette pack containing a white powder and a tab of artificial LSD, which Goff said Arnold had acquired at a Baltimore party. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 28.

Ashleigh Renee Baldwin pleaded guilty to violating her probation and had it extended as a result. Baldwin was placed on probation in January for charges of possession and contributing to delinquency.

The 22-year-old Chester Gap resident violated her probation by testing positive for cocaine and painkillers earlier this year, her attorney Franklin Reynolds said. Goff and Reynolds both argued for a plea agreement which would see those three possession charges run consecutively — totalling six years — “like the sword of Damocles,” Goff said. “Hopefully that’ll keep her on the straight and narrow.” Baldwin has also been approved for a bed at a drug recovery center, Reynolds noted, and would be enrolling in it as soon as possible.

“This court has bent over backwards to give you every chance to succeed,” Parker cautioned Baldwin. “You got three differed dispositions [earlier] — that’s a lot. You were given that opportunity, and you didn’t do very well . . . If you’re not careful, you’ll end up serving that time.”

Parker then sentenced Baldwin to six years in jail (all suspended) and placed her on probation for three years (two years supervised).

A jury trial was also scheduled in the case of 28-year-old Eric Alvin Phillips. The Flint Hill resident was indicted by a grand jury on one count of abduction on July 14. According to a police report on file at the county clerk’s office, Phillips was involved in a fight with the his girlfriend, Shelby Buxton.

After Buxton broke up with him, the complaint says, Phillips became angry, pinning her down on the bed and repeatedly holding a pillow over her head. Phillips then carried Buxton out of the house, forced her into his truck and told her he would “send them both through the windshield.”

Eventually Phillips released Buxton at her mother’s house; Buxton left there afterwards and encountered Phillips on the highway, at which point, the complaint says, Phillips rammed her car repeatedly before leaving.

His jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 28.