HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA -- On the eve of his jury trial, the former Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Winchester pled guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg to charges that he tampered with evidence and witnesses, obstructed justice and possessed cocaine.
Paul Hampton Thomson, 56, of Winchester, Va., who was originally indicted in January, was scheduled to begin a week-long jury trial this morning. But instead of facing a jury, the defendant pled guilty to five of the eight criminal charges leveled against him earlier this year.
This morning, Thomson pled guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence, two counts of witness tampering and one count of possession of cocaine. As part of the plea agreement, Thomson has agreed to serve 38 months in Federal prison, pay a fine of between $7,500 and $75,000 and pay restitution to Melissa Roberts in the amount of $5,000.
“Obstruction of justice is a crime against the criminal justice system,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Mr. Thompson attempted to cheat that system by encouraging the destruction of evidence and coaching witnesses to lie about his drug abuse. Justice doesn’t care if a defendant is rich or poor, black or white, educated or not. Whether you are a former Commonwealth Attorney or a blue collar worker, we will vigorously prosecute you if you obstruct justice and attack the system.”
Today in District Court, Thomson admitted to possessing cocaine in May 2010. He also admitted that he took actions to hide his criminal activity from law enforcement officials. At various times, Thomson destroyed and altered evidence, specifically evidence relating to cell phone numbers and phone records.
In November 2010 and January 2011, Thomson traveled to the Rockingham County Jail and instructed one of his cocaine suppliers to lie to federal investigators.
Thomson admitted today that he took all of these actions to hide his criminal activity, hinder state and federal investigations into his conduct, including federal trial and grand jury proceedings.