The federal government’s case against former Page County Sheriff Danny Presgraves is a “hodgepodge of charges thrown together,” according to his lawyers, who compare the case to a school cafeteria that serves green beans with spaghetti — “They don’t go together,” argued former Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.
Kilgore is one of the small army of lawyers defending Presgraves. In a hearing Friday, he claimed the federal racketeering statute was being stretched to the breaking point to cover the variety of accusations against Presgraves.
Co-counsel Chuck James urged U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad to sever some of the charges against Presgraves. The former sheriff is accused of various public corruption charges including accepting payoffs, collecting kickbacks, and misusing inmate labor. The federal indictment also includes charges of sexually assaulting female staff members.
“They just don’t match. They ought not be tried together,” James said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bondurant defended the mixed menu, however. “If you’re trying to get youngsters to eat green vegetables,” he said, “spaghetti and green beans DO go together.” The government contends the common theme is Presgraves’ alleged misuse of the power of his office.
Conrad promised to rule on the menu for the September trial in “a week or two.”
By Peter Vieth