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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dickenson County Man Pleads Guilty to Failing to Register as a Sex Offender

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A Virginia man, who was required to register as a convicted sex offender upon moving to the Commonwealth from Arizona but failed to do so, pled guilty yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced.

Ray Merrill Stapleton, 65, of Dickenson County, Virginia, pled guilty yesterday in District Court to one count of failing to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) after having traveled in interstate commerce. Stapleton will be sentenced on January 9, 2017.

“SORNA is an important tool for law enforcement to ensure the safety of our communities,” United States Attorney Fishwick said today. “Mr. Stapleton knew his requirements under the law and failed to comply, for that he has been held justly accountable.”

According to evidence presented at yesterday’s hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer, Stapleton was convicted in Pima County, Arizona on June 26, 1988 that consequently resulted in his requirement to register as a sex offender. Stapleton acknowledged his obligation to comply with Arizona, and other states’ registration requirements to register, should he choose to move. Officials in Arizona last recorded contact with Stapleton in September 2010 and recently contacted the Virginia State Police and the United States Marshals Service to follow-up on an investigative lead about the whereabouts of Stapleton. The defendant was ultimately located living in Dickenson County, Virginia, where he was arrested and charged with failing to register.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Virginia State Police and the United States Marshals Service. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated October 18, 2016