A sex offender who failed to register, and in fact gave a false address to his probation officer, will now serve five more years of incarceration.
Thomas Edward Welch, 48, of RR 124, Proctor, signed a plea agreement in Wetzel County Circuit Court Monday that stipulated concurrent sentences of one to five years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men for felony failure to register as a sex offender and five years for his original two counts sexual abuse in the third degree. Those latter charges were changed at the time of his plea in 2009 from sexual assault. Also at that time counts three, four, and five of sexual assault were dismissed.
Welch was given credit for time served of 121 days through April 9. Upon release from incarceration, within three days of release he'll be placed on supervised release for 10 years and must give correct information to register as a sex offender. He is also ordered to pay costs of prosecution including court appointed attorney fees and agree not to do anything to delay or modify his sentence.
Thomas Edward Welch
According to Prosecutor TImothy Haught, on Oct. 24, 2011, Welch gave incorrect information about his living arrangement. The Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Department was notified and found the address he gave did not exist. In November 2011 Welch's whereabouts were unknown and a capias was issued for his arrest.
In court Monday before Judge Mark A. Karl, Welch admitted that he violated conditions of his supervised release. He further said he is being treated for schizophrenia, but is not medicated.
When asked what he did to make him guilty of the offenses, Welch said, "I did not register."
Karl asked, "Did you know you had to?"
"Yes," Welch replied.
The judge ordered Welch to be transferred immediately to the Department of Corrections so he is no longer a charge on Wetzel County.
Also on Monday, Roger Lee Harper Jr., 31, of 5146 Trace Fork Road, Sandyville, W.Va., pleaded guilty by way of a plea agreement Monday to third offense driving on a license revoked for driving under the influence. He was sentenced to one to three years in the West Virginia Penitentiary for Men with credit for three days served. However, the execution of the sentence was suspended and he was placed on two years probation. Harper must also pay all costs of prosecution, including court appointed attorney fees. He agrees not to seek any modification of the sentence.
The offense allegedly took place Feb. 25, 2011, on state Route 2 and Doolin Run Road in Wetzel County on Feb. 25, 2011. Harper told the court he was pulled over for going left of center. He was previously convicted of the offense of driving suspended/revoked for DUI in the Magistrate Court of Kanawha County, W.Va., on or about July 22, 2008; and in the Magistrate Court of Jackson County, W.Va., on or about June 12, 2008.
In required paperwork Harper told the court he does not drink alcohol and does not request alcohol counseling. However, while he said he is a user of illegal drugs and did admit to taking speed three weeks ago, he did not request drug counseling. Karl made sure Harper knew that taking any sort of illegal drugs during his probation term would be a violation.
Haught said Harper readily admitted he did not have a valid driver's license when questioned by Chief Deputy Haught during the traffic stop. He further noted, "He has no other serious or felony convictions. This is his first felony conviction." He has a family and is gainfully employed, living in Jackson County.
On a final note, Defense Attorney Jeremiah Gardner said Harper has taken a personal loan to pay off all of his fines and costs, "So hopefully this will never happen again."
Finally, Cheyenne Sellers, 21, of 136 Cox St., New Martinsville, pleaded guilty by way of a plea agreement to one count each of forgery and uttering. They were part of five indictments totaling 14 true bills from the January grand jury.
The two counts he pleaded to were for allegedly forging the name of Mark Partridge on and employing as true a check written in the amount of $335 on the account of M & H Trucking to Witschey's Market, Inc. He was sentenced to one to 10 years for each charge, to run concurrently and given 61 days credit for time served.
In his oral statement of guilt, Sellers said, "I went into Mark's house and took a check, wrote it out, forged it, and cashed at Witschey's here in New Martinsville."
Prosecutor Haught agreed with that account, adding that Witschey's asked for Sellers' driver's license and they have video surveillance proof of the transaction. "He is the person who uttered it at Witschey's," stated Haught, who added that Sellers said he was going to use the money to buy drugs.
"What is your drug of choice?" Karl asked him.
"Percocet," Sellers replied.
In his substance use form, he said he had used Percocet in the last 120 days and he requested drug counseling while incarcerated. He was to be transferred to the DOC immediately so he is no longer a charge on Wetzel County. A motion to dismiss the remaining counts was accepted.
The other counts were for felony entry of a dwelling and misdemeanor petit larceny of a dwelling house of Mike Anderson in New Martinsville; felony entry of a dwelling and misdemeanor petit larceny of a dwelling house of Harry Campbell in New Martinsville; two felony counts each of forgery and uttering of checks written in the amounts of $100 and $200 on the account of James D. Furbee II to Mayo's Exxon; felony forgery and uttering of a check written in the amount of $60 on the account of Sgt. Harry E. Campbell and Cynthia A. Starkey to Witschey's Market, Inc.; and felony forgery and uttering for a check in the amount of $520 on the account of M & H Trucking to Witschey's Market, Inc.
Sellers, represented by Defense Attorney Thomas White, must pay restitution in all charges through he circuit clerk's office as well as costs of prosecution including court appointed attorney fees. The state agrees to remain silent in any parole hearings. Also, he reserved the right to seek a Rule 35 reduction in sentence, but the state reserved the right to oppose it.