The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
A Pulaski County man faces up to six years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to damaging two trucks belonging to Jack's Mountain Quarry in Glade Hill.
Joseph Edward James, 33, also pleaded guilty to trespassing on the quarry property on April 27.
As part of a plea agreement, two arson charges against James were dismissed on the condition that he pay restitution of $10,860 and testify against his codefendant in the case, Roger Lee Brown Jr., 28, of Union Hall.
During a summary of the evidence against James, prosecutor Cooper Brown said deputies responded to a vehicle fire call on Jack's Mountain Road on April 27. The deputies discovered the two burned trucks, a 1999 Ford and a 2002 Ford, in a field about a half mile from the quarry.
Investigators believe the men drove 4-wheelers around the quarry gate to gain entry, Brown said.
James told investigators he had been staying with Roger Brown and that he had been threatened with a gun to participate in the planned theft at the quarry.
James also told investigators that there had been talk about breaking into the quarry and stealing copper, the prosecutor said. On the evening of April 27, the men entered the quarry but failed to find copper, so they decided to take the trucks, break them down and sell the parts for scrap, he added.
While driving the trucks away from the quarry, one of the trucks struck a tree stump in the field and got stuck, the prosecutor said, and the men fled.
A little while later, the trucks were torched to destroy any evidence, the prosecutor said. James told investigators that Brown went back to the field and burned the trucks using brake fluid as an accelerant.
The investigation is ongoing. Although another person was allegedly involved, no other charges have been filed.
James faces up to five years for felony property damage and up to 12 months in jail for trespassing. Judge W.N. Alexander II revoked his bond and set the sentencing date for Sept. 13 at 9:15 a.m.
James has a criminal record, including seven felony convictions, the prosecutor said. He is currently on probation for a conviction in Pulaski County.
Roger Lee Brown Jr. was indicted in May on two arson charges, one property damage and one trespassing charge. He is currently a fugitive.
(Editor's Note: Mug shots of James and Brown were not available.)