The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Friday, July 20, 2012
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
A Rocky Mount man will serve 12 months in a detention and diversion center for stealing more than $700 worth of merchandise from a local discount tobacco store on Feb. 3.
Justin Alan Lee Ball, 20, pleaded guilty in May to grand larceny and burglary.
Judge W.N. Alexander II sentenced Ball to 10 years in prison but suspended the prison time if Ball will complete the detention and diversion program within the Virginia Department of Corrections.
"You're going down the wrong path," Alexander told Ball. "If you don't change, you're going to the penitentiary."
"I honestly feel bad for what I did," Ball told the judge during his sentencing hearing this week. "I am ashamed to say so, but I have a problem with drugs."
Ball was also sentenced to three years probation and ordered to be of good behavior for 15 years. He was also ordered to pay $2,172 in restitution, which includes damage to the store.
Ball admitted to investigators that he and three others smashed the glass of the front door of the store at 19594 Virgil Goode Highway and stole several cartons of cigarettes and incense (referred to as Spice or K2).
A Roanoke man and two juveniles have also been charged in connection with the theft. The man, Stephen Wayne Leftwich, 20, is set to be tried on Aug. 9 at 4 p.m. in Franklin County Circuit Court on charges of breaking and entering and grand larceny in the case.
The burglary occurred on Feb. 3 when the front door of the store was smashed with a hammer and an estimated $710 worth of cigarettes and incense was stolen, according to Lt. Todd Maxey with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
The incense, which is labeled "not for human consumption," is often smoked, Maxey said. The herbs listed on the container are legal; however, the herbs are often spiked with illegal synthetic cannabinoids, which mimic the effects of marijuana.
A new Virginia law that went into effect on July 1 prohibits the sale of these chemical compounds, so the products can no longer be legally sold.
In February, school resource officer Jeff Sanders identified a male juvenile at the high school who was distributing the synthetic marijuana, Maxey said. As a result, Investigator Brian Webb recovered most of the stolen incense at a residence near the tobacco store on Feb. 9, Maxey said.
Webb identified another teenager, along with Ball and Leftwich, as suspects in the burglary.