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Man gets prison for Presidential van heist

It might not have seemed like much of a deal, but a Virginia man worked with authorities on establishing an appropriate sentence for auto theft.

The man's offenses called for a sentence of around three years in prison, but instead, he got seven years behind bars. The only reason this might be considered a deal is the fact that in return for the lengthy prison sentence, the man will avoid prosecution on 14 other auto thefts that spanned throughout three different localities.

The man's most recent theft grabbed nationwide headlines. The man stole a 2005 Ford van that actually belonged to the Defense Information Systems Agency and was assigned to the White House. The van contained audio equipment that was to be used for an upcoming visit by President Obama. These materials included a teleprompter, laptop, speakers and microphones. The man took the vehicle from the parking lot of a hotel in Henrico County.

Authorities eventually tracked down the van elsewhere in town, but the contents were gone. They tracked some of the audio equipment down in a nearby state at some pawn shops.

An Assistant United States Attorney said that the offense is more serious because the property belonged to the United States government. The man, too, had a very extensive criminal past, which included offenses such as burglary, grand theft auto, identity theft and drug possession.

A U.S. district judge said that the prison sentence will give the man some time to rethink his life and give himself a fresh start once he is released.

Defendants have very little hope of winning a jury trial in many cases. In such scenarios, the most effective defense strategy is bargaining with prosecutors to receive a lenient sentence. In this case, the man did get out of a number of charges he was already facing, but he still must spend a significant amount of time behind bars.

Source: Associated Press, "Virginia man who stole White House van sentenced," Larry O'Dell, April 11, 2013

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