Men plead guilty to vandalizing new school

RADFORD – Three Radford men will spend the holiday season behind bars after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the vandalism of the new Belle Heth School in August.

In Radford Circuit Court Thursday, Andrew Preston Black, William Russell Price and Marshall David Williams pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors, including destruction of property, disorderly conduct and underage possession alcohol. They will serve a 60-days active jail sentence, with the remainder suspended.

The charges stem from an August 2009 incident in which the men were observed inside the new Belle Heth School by a citizen, who alerted police. The men were apprehended almost immediately. Several overhead projectors and an air conditioning unit were damaged.

According to Radford Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Rehak, the active jail sentence will be served November 16 – January, 14. Credit for 10 days already served should provide release on or about January 4, 2010, according to Rehak.

According to Rehak, the felony burglary charge each man faced will remain under advisement for a period of two years, and will be dropped if no further violations occur and the defendant’s complete the terms of their sentence. The defendant’s also paid restitution to the school system for the damage caused by the vandalism. They are also banned from Radford City School property for two years and will be on unsupervised probation for two years following their release.

Rehak said the plea agreement, which avoids a felony conviction, was reached in part because the defendants had no prior criminal record.

“This case generated more public comment and controversy than any other in nine years prosecuting cases for our City,” Rehak said. “The expedited disposition and “misdemeanor option” was offered after taking account of multiple factors not the least of which was the absence of any prior criminal records. Avoiding felony convictions at this juncture makes completing college and meaningful productive careers still a possibility.”

Rehak credited the Radford Police Department and the citizen who altered police to the crime with helping bring the defendants to justice.

“Teachers, staff, students and parents excited to start this year in a new school instead were forced to grapple with these despicable crimes,” he said. “When public property is damaged or stolen, everyone in the community becomes the victim. The City should be very proud of quality police work involved as well as the attentive and responsible citizens who promptly alerted police.”

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