CHRISTIANSBURG — Kenneth Wayne Raines’ age and poor health brought him a reduced jail term Wednesday as a Montgomery County judge sentenced Raines for his role in the Icy Roads methamphetamine case.
Raines, 65, pleaded guilty in December to two charges of possessing a Schedule II drug. He was among 30 people accused of connections to a drug operation that brought meth from Georgia to be distributed in the New River Valley.
At his sentencing hearing Wednesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Raines told Judge Mike Fleenor that he only started using drugs at age 59, that he stopped after an earlier drug conviction but relapsed after the coronavirus pandemic began, and that he now has stopped hanging out with meth users.
Raines said that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and that he thought he should use an oxygen tank but because of the pandemic, he was scared to seek medical treatment – and also scared to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Defense attorney I.D. Caudill of Salem said Raines tried to self-medicate with meth to help his breathing, calling it “certainly a bad choice.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Rachel Shrader said that since Raines was not getting any medical care now, he might be better off with whatever treatment was available in jail. She urged the judge to impose a punishment within state sentencing guidelines and noted that for Raines, who had prior convictions for unlawful wounding and drug possession, the midpoint of the guidelines was two years behind bars.
Caudill said the court should consider that Raines might catch COVID-19 in jail. “The pandemic is a fact,” Caudill said.
After Raines said that he will turn 66 in May, Fleenor said he would take his age and health into account.
“I can’t give a 66-year-old man with his conditions two years. I’m not going to do it,” Fleenor said.
Fleenor sentenced Raines to three years on each charge, then said the time behind bars would be suspended after Raines served a total of 12 months – six months for each charge. One year behind bars was at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, Fleenor said.
The judge ordered that Raines be supervised by the probation office for two years after his release, that he undergo a substance abuse evaluation, and that he comply with whatever recommendations result from the evaluation.