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Ex-Barbour sheriff receives federal prison term

Exponent Telegram file photo John Hawkins
Exponent Telegram file photo
John Hawkins

ELKINS, W.Va. — Former Barbour Sheriff John Hawkins was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison on Tuesday for faking a wreck and then filing a false insurance claim.

The actual charge for which Hawkins will serve time is felony mail fraud, to which he pleaded guilty in February.

Hawkins, 48, of Philippi, will be permitted to surrender July 15 to the federal prison to which he’s designated, Chief U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled. Hawkins will have to serve three years of supervised release once he gets out of prison, the court ordered.

Defense attorney Harry Smith III had argued for probation or house arrest. U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II sought a sentence of at least 12 months in prison, saying the defendant betrayed the public trust and also hadn’t been forthright in his post-plea debriefing with authorities.

“This court finds this case to be in a sense tragic,” Bailey said. “The defendant has done a lot of good in his life, and he has good family and family support.

“He made a bad decision. He not only made a bad decision for himself, but he involved a deputy who has since resigned,” Bailey said. “The people of Barbour County placed their trust in him, and he betrayed their trust.

“He was in a position to set an example for the people of Barbour County, particularly the young people, and he failed to do so,” Bailey added. “He failed to promote respect for the law.”

Hawkins showed little emotion as the sentence was imposed. Some members of his family and supporters wept quietly in the gallery…

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