Kathy C. Farley, a 50-year-old Halifax resident, entered an Alford plea of guilty to one count of obtaining money by false pretenses in Halifax County Circuit Court on Friday.
Circuit Court Judge Don Blessing found her guilty of the misdemeanor offense and sentenced her to an active period of incarceration of three months, and he imposed an additional suspended sentence of nine months as well as 36 months of good behavior upon her release from incarceration, according to Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Q. Martin.
Under terms of an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but realizes prosecution evidence would make a guilty finding at trial almost a certainty.
Farley had been charged after selling and collecting a $300 payment for two freezers when she had already sold them, received money for them, and transferred possession of them to another individual, Martin explained.
“She let an out-of-town couple pay for the items when she no longer had them to sell. She gave them a new excuse almost daily for failing to deliver the items for more than two weeks,” said Martin.
Farley returned the payment only when confronted by police, according to the commonwealth’s attorney.
“Obtaining money by false pretenses is a fraud offense, but the Code of Virginia also deems it to be a form of larceny,” continued Martin.
“Because the law changed in 2018 to make the larceny of ‘goods and chattels of the value of less than $500’ into misdemeanors, the commonwealth elected to amend what was a felony in 2015 to a misdemeanor.
“Even though amending the charge was certainly fair, given the legislative change, Mrs. Farley’s behavior was aggravated because of the status of her federal charges at the time.
“For that reason, the commonwealth argued for the maximum sentence on any misdemeanor of twelve months active incarceration,” Martin stated.
Farley had been indicted in April 2015 for money laundering, tax evasion, wire fraud and other federal offenses, according to Martin.
“She had been released on April 6, 2015 and was under federal conditions of release at the time of the May 14, 2015 charge out of Halifax,” said Martin.
“She eventually entered a plea agreement to five years active incarceration and to forfeit assets of over $1 million.”
As Judge Blessing pronounced Farley’s punishment at Friday’s hearing, he stated, “While the feds have had their punishment, Halifax has to have its punishment, too,” according to Martin.
Farley will complete her punishment in the federal system before returning to the state system to serve out Judge Blessing’s sentence, Martin added.