2 Sheriff's Deputies Plead Guilty In Henry County, Va. Drug Corruption Case

Wednesday, March 21st 2007, 7:20 pm
By: News On 6

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ A former sheriff's deputy and a former probation officer charged with participating in a scheme to sell drugs seized from criminals pleaded guilty Tuesday under agreements with prosecutors.

Steven Preston, 37, the former Henry County sheriff's deputy, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one charge of racketeering conspiracy, according the U.S. Attorney's Office. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Former probation officer Carlton Riley, 42, faces a minimum five years in prison for attempted drug distribution. The maximum penalty is 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

The pair were among 20 people, including former sheriff H. Franklin Cassell and 12 other members of the department, indicted last fall in the corruption case. Fourteen of those named in the indictment have pleaded guilty to charges that included racketeering conspiracy, narcotics distribution and weapons counts.

Cassell, who is charged with impeding federal officers' investigation and money laundering, is set for a jury trial in June.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Bondurant said Preston tipped off a fellow officer that federal agents planned to make a drug delivery at a rental home that was regularly used for drug distribution.

The prosecutor said Riley ordered a kilogram of cocaine in April of last year from a source who was working with police.