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A James City County man charged with selling cocaine and illegally possessing a firearm pleaded guilty while also maintaining his innocence Tuesday morning.
Kenneth Len Shackleford, 36, told WJCC Circuit Court Judge Michael McGinty he chose this type of guilty plea, called an Alford plea, because he “did not want to take a risk at trial.”
He was charged with one count of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute and one count of possessing a firearm while also in possession of a schedule II drug. He was charged after the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force identified Shackleford as a drug dealer and executed a search warrant of his home last July.
He recognized why he was charged with illegal possession of a firearm – a semi-automatic handgun was uncovered during the search – but he said he did not understand how the bags of cocaine, one of which was found on the ground near him, could be considered possession.
As part of his plea agreement, Shackleford pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and the Commonwealth withdrew the illegal firearm possession charge.
Shackleford faces up to 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. He will return to court for a pre-sentencing report Aug. 17.