Puppy scammer sentencing delayed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Sentencing was delayed on Monday for convicted puppy scammer Monica Binkley, who will be screened for alternative punishment at the request of her attorney.

Judge J. Warren Stephens, a retired Hampton judge who presided over the lengthy trial in July, extended the sentencing date to Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. to allow time for the review. Binkley could receive up to 90 years in prison for her attempts to defraud four of the 24 dog buyers who testified against her.

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Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Susan Walton anticipated reaching a plea agreement with regard to the remaining three charges that Binkley faces.

Known to many of her puppy buyers as Monica Arnold, Binkley made the national spotlight last December after she fled to Texas with a U-Haul trailer filled with more than 50 puppies most of which had already been sold. Binkley has been held in the Western Tidewater Regional Jail since her extradition back to Virginia in January.

In extending the case until Oct. 1, Judge Stephens pointed out to Binkley that the alternative punishment screening is in no way of guarantee that she’ll escape jail time.

&uot;It doesn’t mean you’re going to get it (alternative punishment),&uot; stressed Stephens.

The two options would include a detention center, requiring extensive physical labor; and a diversion program, which is similar to work release. Both programs last an estimated six months.

After the hearing, Walton commented that the Commonwealth would &uot;object&uot; to alternative punishment for Binkley.