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Three plead guilty in Lee County battery thefts

Wes Bunch • Feb 28, 2014 at 9:58 PM

JONESVILLE — Three Southwest Virginia residents pleaded guilty this week to multiple felonies for their roles in a rash of motor vehicle battery thefts that occurred last year in Lee County.

Shannon Lee West, 37, of Pennington Gap, and William General Russell, 37, of Ben Hur, pleaded guilty Monday to 10 counts of grand larceny and conspiracy to commit grand larceny for stealing nearly a dozen batteries in November 2013 from five separate locations in Lee County.

A third suspect in the case, Amanda Price Ondra, 35, of Pennington Gap, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, receiving stolen property with intent to resell and conspiracy.

Authorities said the trio stole 11 batteries from road tractors and heavy-duty trucks over the weekend of Nov. 10, 2013.

Two days after the thefts took place, a Lee County sheriff’s deputy reportedly observed a vehicle parked on the side of Old Ridge Road with several automotive batteries stacked in its back seat.

Knowing of the battery thefts, the deputy pulled over to investigate and found West, Russell and Ondra sitting in the front seat of the vehicle. A total of 11 batteries and two radiators were found by the deputy. Four aluminum tire rims were also reportedly found in the back seat.

The items discovered were later positively identified by the theft victims, authorities said.

West and Russell reportedly admitted to stealing the batteries from trucks located throughout Lee County and taking the rims from a Woodway-area garage. Authorities said Ondra told the deputy the rims were given to them by her grandfather, although West and Russell said she was aware they were stolen.

The three were reportedly on their way to the salvage yard to sell the items when they were stopped and arrested.

Under the terms of their plea agreement, West was given a sentence of four years and four months in prison while Russell was sentenced to one year and six months.

Lee County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacy Estep Munsey said West’s sentence was based in large part on his extensive criminal history, which includes charges of burglary, larceny and multiple drug offenses.

The two were also ordered by the court to pay restitution to their victims and were placed on supervised probation following their release.

Ondra, who did not enter into an agreement, will be sentenced on April 4. She is currently incarcerated following DUI and hit-and-run convictions.

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