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Police charge man asking for money at Interstate 81 exit ramp

July 11, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man claiming to be a homeless veteran was charged while panhandling along an Interstate 81 exit ramp for a fourth time, Berkeley County Magistrate Court records show.

Richard Taylor Wasson, 51, of 700 Winchester Ave., was jailed Saturday on a $10,000 bond after being charged with obstructing police and violating the restriction of pedestrians on interstates, records show.

According to court records, Wasson was seen standing along the southbound, exit 13 ramp about 2:25 p.m., holding a cardboard sign that stated "Homeless Veteran Please Help." He was soliciting passing traffic for money, West Virginia State Police Trooper J.B. Flanigan alleged in a complaint.

"When informed he was not supposed to be out there, the defendant advised that he knew, stating he had previously been arrested earlier in the week for the same (thing)," Flanigan said.

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After Wasson saw Flanigan's patrol vehicle, the trooper said the accused immediately stuffed the sign inside his shirt and took off running toward the exit 13 overpass, records allege.

Wasson was cited by two other state police troopers in March and April and subsequently entered guilty pleas to the same charges filed against him Saturday, Flanigan noted.

As part of a 90-day suspended sentence he received from previous charges, Wasson was ordered to avoid all interstates and their off-ramps, Flanigan said.

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