Former Pocahontas County Sheriffs’ Deputy Sentenced To Sixth Months Home Confinement
Marlinton, WV – On July 9th, a little over a year after he was originally charged with felony counterfeiting, former Pocahontas County Sheriffs’ deputy Benjamin Wilfong received a sentence of six months home confinement from Pocahontas County Circuit Court Judge James Rowe.
In late May of 2009, Wilfong was arrested by the West Virginia State Police and changed with four counts of felony counterfeiting and 1 felony count of obtaining goods by false pretense. The charges were the result of checks Wilfong presented in his defense in a civil case, in an attempt to prove that he had paid for goods obtained. The checks he presented, dated for 2003 and 2004, were from an account with Pendleton Community Bank.
However, Pendleton County Bank did not change its name to Pendleton Community Bank until 2005. Furthermore, the State Police investigation showed that the account the checks were drawn on didn’t exist until 2007.
Pocahontas County Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price had requested a special prosecutor for the case against Wilfong. However due to a miscommunication in the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute, an attorney was not appointed and Special Magistrate Judge Brenda Smith had no choice but to dismiss the charges against Wilfong.
Subsequently, Special Prosecutor Patrick Via and Wilfong’s defense attorney Christine Stump worked out a plea deal. Wilfong plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of attempting to obtain goods by false pretenses in April 2010.
During his sentencing hearing on July 9th, Wilfong claimed he had made a mistake in presenting the bad checks. But, Judge Rowe pressed Wilfong to admit that he had intentionally sought to defraud the merchant to which he presented the checks. He asked Wilfong what he had learned as a result of going through this.
Wilfong again apologized for his actions, saying he realizes the importance of taking responsibility for his actions, and doing what he can to make things right. His attorney says that he has made complete restitution to the merchant. Wilfong also says the damage to his reputation in the community is worse than anything the court could impose.
Judge Rowe sentenced Wilfong to six months home confinement on each count, to be served concurrently. He imposed the maximum fine of 100.00 per count and 200 hours of community service. Rowe also noted that as a police officer, Wilfong had broken a special trust.
Defense attorney Stump asked if Wilfong could be released from home confinement to go to work and church. Judge Rowe says after a period of monitoring, he may allow some leniency in that regard.