JONESVILLE — A preliminary hearing has been continued again for a Knoxville man charged with possession of stolen property after he allegedly drove a stolen H2 Hummer to the Lee County Department of Social Services and attempted to apply for welfare benefits.
William K. Anderson, 51, 501 Forrestal Drive, Knoxville, is being held without bond at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail and may be charged with other crimes in Lee County and another jurisdiction in relation to the stolen vehicle.
The owners of the expensive SUV had recently moved from Michigan to Tennessee when the vehicle was stolen from a Knoxville residence on Feb. 2. On Feb. 8, someone noticed Anderson drive to the DSS and attempt to obtain benefits. The witness thought it unusual that someone in such an expensive vehicle with out-of-state tags would be in need of benefits and contacted the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. A quick check revealed the vehicle to be stolen.
Sheriff Gary Parsons said his officers were notified to be on the lookout for the vehicle, and it was soon located in the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Ben Hur. Officers set up a surveillance on the vehicle and waited until someone came out of the store, entered the vehicle and drove away. Officers then initiated a stop and charged the driver, Anderson, with possession of stolen property.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 27, but bad weather forced the hearing to be continued to March 26. The owner of the vehicle was unable to make the court date, and the case was continued until Wednesday. Another continuance was in order when Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacy Munsey noticed that the original warrant charged Anderson with possession of stolen property with intent to sell, rather than under the grand larceny statute.
She asked Judge Larry Lewis to amend the warrant over the objections of defense attorney Rick Callahan, who noted the request was to upgrade the charge to a higher level crime. Munsey successfully argued the problem with the warrant was clearly a clerical error by the magistrate, and Lewis granted the request.
However, the judge noted that since the charge was being upgraded, the accused had the right to another continuance. Callahan consulted with his client then advised the court they would be requesting a continuance.
Munsey initially indicated she would be willing to drop the charge, as other charges may be pending on the theft in another jurisdiction. But after the court ascertained that those charges have yet to be placed, she decided to schedule another hearing, which was set for April 23 at 10:30 a.m.
The prosecutor said her office is still looking at other possible charges and could ask that this charge be dismissed prior to that date in order to seek indictments on those other possible charges.