- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:52
- Published on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 05:42
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Robert Ray Crouch of King George, who was sentenced to five years in prison, fined $35,000 and ordered to pay more than $84,000 in restitution for defrauding customers of the former Meadow-Brooke Memorial Gardens cemetery in King George, has been granted a hearing by the Virginia Court of Appeals.
Crouch, 47, was convicted by a King George Circuit Court earlier this year of nine counts of failure to deposit in the proper trust account and five counts of receiving money by false pretenses. The jury convicting him recommended the sentences handed down by Circuit Court Judge Martin Bass.
After his convictions, Crouch filed a notice of appeal citing a case decided in 1998, Rooney v. Commonwealth. The Rooney case had similar facts to the Crouch case, but Rooney was found guilty of embezzlement.
Crouch made a similar argument in an attempt to strike the evidence during his trial, but King George Commonwealth’s Attorney Keri Gusmann successfully argued that Crouch was found guilty of obtaining money by false pretenses, a different crime, and that different crimes have different elements of the offense.
In addition, Gusmann argued at the time, the law was changed in 2005 and that Rooney was no longer an appropriate law. However, the Virginia Court of Appeals decision to hear the appeal means the issue will be debated further in a full appeals hearing next Spring.
Crouch was found guilty by a King George Circuit Court jury that listened to over 35 witnesses and reviewed 40 pieces of evidence. He is currently incarcerated at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford County where he is being held without bond.
At Crouch’s trial in March, Gusmann was passionate in her arguments for his conviction. “Mr. Crouch was accused and convicted of a despicable act,” Gusmann told the court. “He stole from people who were at their most vulnerable point.”
— Richard Leggitt