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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Former Damascus Police Chief Tony Richardson faces up to 80 years in prison after pleading no contest Tuesday to charges that he sold methamphetamine.

07:46 | ,

Former Damascus Police Chief Tony Richardson faces up to 80 years in prison after pleading no contest Tuesday to charges that he sold and conspired to distribute methamphetamine. And there are more charges to come. The no-contest pleas, which carry the same penalties as a conviction but is not an admission of guilt, were delivered Tuesday in answer to two drug charges in Washington County Circuit Court. Richardson is scheduled for sentencing on those charges Jan. 14.
Still pending are 14 other criminal charges – 11 felonies and three misdemeanors – and a pending trial date in March. “Because they are different dates and different offenses, they can’t all be tried together unfortunately, so we’re having to just piecemeal the cases a few at a time until we can get them all tried,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Godfrey said. “We have to go from one jury pool to another in order to do that, so it will take quite a while to get through them unless some type of understanding is reached.” Godfrey said he does not anticipate offering Richardson a plea agreement. “We wanted to have a trial,” said Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Price, who added that she and Godfrey will be ready for trial in the next case as well. Richardson said nothing in court Tuesday except to answer questions from retired 30th Circuit Judge Birg Sergent, who is presiding over the cases. Richardson’s attorney, Tony Anderson, said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case while sentencing and other charges are pending. Although Richardson has largely remained silent since his arrest last year, in May he said he would tell his story “as soon as I’m turned loose.” During Tuesday’s hearing, Special Agent Brian Snedeker of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, testified that on June 12, 2007, law enforcement agents used a confidential source to make a controlled purchase of 3.5 grams of methamphetamine from Richardson. “I was both listening to the transaction as it occurred and watching Mr. Richardson’s residence as the transaction occurred,” Snedeker testified. Snedeker also identified evidence for the Commonwealth, which was sealed, including video recordings, a transcript and text message records. The charges still pending against Richardson include three counts of drug distribution, two counts of imitation drug distribution, two counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs, possession of drugs, grand larceny of a firearm, two counts of possessing a firearm with scheduled drugs and two counts of obstructing justice. According to the indictment, the possession charges are for meth and hydrocodone; the distribution charges are for meth, hydrocodone, oxycodone and imitation meth; and the firearm in question belonged to the Glade Spring Police Department.

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