The 19-year-old Elkins man who was being held on kidnapping charges is free after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy in Randolph County Magistrate Court.
James E. Cornett was originally charged with one felony count of kidnapping, abducting or concealing a child. He was arrested Jan. 22 for allegedly offering two females under the age of 13 $20 to pretend to be a woman's children so the woman, Corcia Smith, who also goes by the names Corcia Ramey and Shelly Smith, could obtain money under false pretenses from a man.
The incident allegedly occurred on Sept. 23, 2012.
Cornett pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy Feb. 14 and was sentenced to the time he had already served in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail, Assistant Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Lori Gray said Wednesday.
In exchange, the state dropped the felony kidnapping charge pending against Cornett.
"Based on the evidence in the case, it appears this was basically a scheme concocted by Ms. Ramey (Corcia Smith)," Gray said. "Mr. Cornett's participation was minimal at best, and therefore his charge was reduced in the interest of justice."
Cornett's preliminary hearing -which had been rescheduled for Friday after being continued in January - has been canceled.
At a Feb. 14 preliminary hearing in Randolph County Magistrate, Chief Magistrate Ben Shepler found probable cause in the case of 33-year-old Smith, who is charged with one felony count of abduction of a person, kidnapping or concealing a child. Her case was bound over to a grand jury in Randolph County Circuit Court.
Smith is being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $50,000 cash or surety bond.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.