CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) — A Harrison County judge on Wednesday revoked the deferred adjudication agreement for a 51-year-old emergency room doctor from Chesapeake, Virginia, and accepted her guilty plea to felony financial exploitation of an elder.
The charge would have been dismissed if Dr. Mary Margaret Bland had completed the 3-year deferred adjudication, which has basically the same rules as probation.
Judge Chris McCarthy ruled Bland hadn’t completed her community service requirement. Additionally, the judge found she had been untruthful to her probation officer by allegedly falsifying community service hour documents.
And while she isn’t charged and still would be presumed innocent if she was, the court found Bland’s alleged falsification of the community service documents amounted to “new criminal conduct” for the purposes of the revocation hearing.
Chief Probation Officer Mike Burnside and an official for the Clarksburg Mission testified regarding the community service allegation.
Records showed Bland only completed about 33 hours of community service, Burnside said. And all of that was prior to early October of 2018, Burnside testified. The Mission official said she had no documentation of community service completed by Bland from January 2019 to last February.
And, the Mission shut down its community service operation in April due to COVID-19, the Mission official testified.
Bland had sent documentation to Burnside contending she had performed community service in May and June. That documentation included initials purporting to belong to the Mission official. The Mission official denied she even had ever met Bland and said none of the initializations were hers.
Bland insisted she had met the Mission official at the beginning of her community service.
Bland apologized, but indicated to the court she had completed more community service than what she had been credited. In fact, she said she believed she had done enough to complete her requirement. However, shortly after she said she thought she almost had done enough — a discrepancy quickly noted by McCarthy.
Assistant Prosecutor Brian Shockley asked the court to revoke the deferred adjudication and sentence Bland to the prison term of 1 to 10 years. Bland disrespected the court and the state, plus “tried to perpetrate fraud,” he said.
Bland showed “total disregard for the law,” Shockley said.
Shaffer apologized at length for his client’s actions on bond. He asked McCarthy to keep the deferred adjudication in place, and send Bland to jail “to complete her other (255) hours … in an orange uniform. I think something like that would really send a message. …”
McCarthy sided with Shockley, telling Bland she isn’t above the law.
“There has to be consequences for the fact that you ignored and thumbed your nose at the legal system,” McCarthy said.
While McCarthy revoked the deferred adjudication and accepted the felony plea, the granted Shaffer’s request to impose a signature bond (for $100,000), with the condition Bland immediately surrender her passport to Burnside.
The judge set a dispositional hearing Dec. 18, telling Bland that when she returns to Virginia, “to deal with your affairs.”
It’s believed Shaffer will request home incarceration if that’s available, and if not, probation, perhaps with a jail component.
Bland paid the $35,000 restitution in the case. That was the amount she removed from a nursing home resident’s bank account without the resident’s permission, and after the defendant was no longer the victim’s power of attorney.
State Police Cpl. Roger Glaspell investigated.
Bland will be sentenced under the statute in place at the time of the crime, which calls for a term of 1 to 10 years. The penalty under the statute has increased to 2 to 20 years since then.
It was the second petition to revoke filed against Bland. In 2018, the court permitted her to remain under the agreement.