Man pleads to counterfeit charge

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Lewisburg man decided to plead guilty after a jury had been seated Monday to try his case.

Robert Lee Hodge, 31, of Franklin Road, was arrested on Aug. 15, and charged by Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. Jimmy Oliver for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at the Burger King restaurant.

Hodge pleaded not guilty during his arraignment before Judge Robert Crigler on Nov. 5.

The jury had been selected and then given a break while the prosecution and defense talked with Crigler. Once the jury came back, the judge told them that the defendant had decided to plead guilty.

"Everybody's entitled to ask for a trial," said Crigler. "They're also entitled to plead guilty."

"It appeared to be in his best interest to accept the offer the state had given us," said defense attorney Don Himmelberg, explaining that the offer was a sentence of three years and three months.

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard was prepared to prosecute Hodge and had notified Hodge and Himmelberg that he would present testimony from the restaurant and also from a gas station employee who picked Hodge out of a photo line-up as the man who tried to pass a $100 bill that she didn't believe to be real.

Hodge's court file shows that he was convicted of statutory rape in February 2003, and violated his probation for the rape charge on Oct. 8. Hodge has also been convicted of criminal trespass and unnecessary noise, according to public records.