The story behind Daniel W. Presgraves, 47, is one of a home-grown politician whose fall from grace came on the heels of hobnobbing with many of Virginia’s most prominent politicians.
When Presgraves was elected sheriff of Page County, he won over the citizenry by such moves as using prisoners to deliver Meals on Wheels. He forged relationships with former governor George Allen, former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore and House minority whip Eric Cantor.
The pinnacle of Presgraves’ rise to power came when former President George W. Bush gave a speech at Shenan-doah National Park in 2007. Sheriff Presgraves was a central figure among the welcoming committee, and boasted of shaking Bush’s hand.
Federal prosecutors, however, said Presgraves’ “arrogance” was his downfall. “He thought he was like king of the county and he could do anything he wanted to – and for some years he did,” stated Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Bondurant, Jr.
The residents of Page County considered Presgraves to be cocky. Ironically, it was cockfighting that resulted in his in-dictment. For many years cockfighting was legal, or at least tolerated, in many states.
A federal undercover agent posed as an out-of-state “cocker” interested in buying a cockfighting pit known as Little Boxwood. The agent arranged with Albert C. Taylor, a local cocker and GOP party official, and two other men to give Presgraves $500 to not interfere with the sale or operation of the pit. Presgraves later deposited the money into his bank account, the indictment charged.
Witnesses at grand jury proceedings said Presgraves made lewd comments and groped a dozen female sheriff’s of-fice employees. In addition to the bribery and sexual harassment charges, he was accused of using prisoner labor to work on his and his relatives’ properties. The October 2008 indictment further charged Presgraves with conspiring to deal mari-juana, tipping off a local company about the federal investigation, embezzling $86,410 – including money from the jail’s phone service provider – and attempting to launder $200,000.
Presgraves’ plea deal only required him to admit to illegally using prisoner labor and trying to persuade witnesses to lie. On December 18, 2009, he was sentenced to 19 months in prison, two years supervised release, a $1,000 fine and almost $4,000 in restitution, and ordered to forfeit $75,000. See: United States v. Presgraves, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Va.), Case No. 5:08-cr-00028.
Sources: Washington Post, U.S. Attorneys Office press release
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Related legal case
United States v. Presgraves
|U.S.D.C. (W.D. Va.), Case No. 5:08-cr-00028