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Three men sentenced for rock vandalism

July 27, 2005

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Three Harpers Ferry, W.Va., men on Tuesday were ordered to pay restitution and perform community service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park following vandalism last December at Jefferson Rock, a popular attraction in the park.

In the vandalism, the top of Jefferson Rock was painted red and graffiti was painted in red on nearby rocks, said Chief Ranger Jennifer Flynn.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge W. Craig Broadwater ordered Robert Owen Hopkins Jr., 20, and Steven Nicholas Hopkins, 19, both of Box 38, Blue Ridge Acres, to perform 250 hours of community service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and to pay restitution of $3,644.74, said U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Johnston.

Both also were sentenced to three years probation, Johnston said.

Nicholas Brian Vlachos, 23, of 151 Blue Ridge Acres, was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service at the park and to pay restitution of $500, Johnston said. Vlachos also was sentenced to six months probation, Johnston said.

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The judge's orders follow earlier guilty pleas from the men.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people hike to the rock to see a panoramic view of the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, along with Harpers Ferry, park officials said.

Thomas Jefferson described the vista as "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature" in "Notes on the State of Virginia" after hiking to the spot in 1783.

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