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Lawyer requests extra jail time for defendant with 'drug problem'

Wes Bunch • Feb 26, 2014 at 12:42 AM

JONESVILLE — A Southwest Virginia man convicted of shoplifting will spend the next two years in prison after his attorney took the unusual step Tuesday of requesting more jail time to allow his client to deal with a drug addiction.

Adam Michael Pendergraft, 25, of Pennington Gap, was sentenced by Judge Tammy McElyea after pleading guilty on Dec. 30 to two counts of felony shoplifting and trespassing stemming from an incident that occurred at the Walmart in Jonesville.

According to Lee County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shawn Hines, Pendergraft was arrested for a separate shoplifting incident Feb. 21 at the Walmart in Wise County. During that investigation, Wise County authorities allegedly found a mobile methamphetamine lab in the vehicle Pendergraft and his accomplices were in.

Pendergraft now faces charges in Wise County of manufacturing methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school, felony shoplifting and credit card fraud. Pendergraft has yet to enter a plea on those charges.

As a result of that incident, defense attorney Richard Kennedy of Wise asked McElyea on Tuesday to exceed the state guidelines for his client, admitting to the court that Pendergraft had a “serious drug problem” that would kill him if he didn’t receive some kind of treatment.

Sentencing guidelines called for Pendergraft to receive a year and six months in the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Kennedy reportedly said that Pendergraft recognized he had a drug addiction and “wanted to live.” Pendergraft requested a sentence of at least two years so he would be eligible to enter the DOC’s Therapeutic Drug Treatment Program.

Hines said he felt the two-year sentence was in order given Pendergraft’s criminal history and agreed that he should be required to undergo the drug treatment program. Hines said the program takes at least two years to successfully complete.

Pendergraft was arrested on shoplifting and trespassing charges in July after he was observed stealing video games from the Jonesville Walmart.

According to authorities, a loss-prevention officer at Walmart observed Pendergraft throwing two video games over the fence of the store’s lawn and garden center before collecting the games and leaving in a waiting vehicle. Surveillance video also showed Pendergraft placing five games inside a sporting equipment box and only attempting to pay for the equipment.

Pendergraft is currently being held at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield.

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