01/09 2013

Jeremy Mayfield working on plea deal to avoid jail time in criminal charges

Jeremy Mayfield working on plea deal to avoid jail time in criminal charges

Sporting News

NEWTON, N.C. — After more than a year of legal maneuvering, Jeremy Mayfield is talking to prosecutors about possible plea agreements but said Monday that he would not accept any plea deal under which he would go to jail on drug and stolen goods charges.

The former NASCAR driver appeared at a hearing Monday in North Carolina Superior Court in Newton, N.C. The hearing took less than a minute and left the case potentially open for more hearings later this week.

Jeremy Mayfield is working on a plea bargain to resolve the criminal charges he faces in North Carolina. (AP Photo)

Mayfield, who was suspended by NASCAR for a failed drug test in 2009, met with his attorney for about 40 minutes before leaving the courthouse.

“They are talking and hopefully we can get something worked out in the next couple of weeks and go from there,” Mayfield said outside the courtroom. “It possibly could (happen this week). Communication is open.

“But I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you I’m hoping … I go to jail. … I’m hoping we get it over. I will look at you right now and tell you no (to jail time).”

Mayfield attorney David Freedman said all possibilities are being discussed and that it is doubtful that something would happen this week. He said he would have a good feel for a direction in the case in the next month.

Mayfield faces 19 felony counts across three North Carolina counties that carry a maximum of 43 years in jail, although it is doubtful the sentence would be that long even if he were convicted on all counts.

In Catawba County, where the hearing was Monday, Mayfield faces one felony count of possession of methamphetamine, three felony counts of possession of stolen goods and one felony count of obtaining stolen goods by false pretenses.

Out on bond, Mayfield also faces four counts of felony larceny in Caldwell County, which has the same prosecutor as the charges in Catawba County. He faces 10 felony charges — seven charges of breaking and entering and three for larceny — in Iredell County.

Mayfield’s next court dates are Jan. 14 in Caldwell County and Feb. 18 in Iredell County. It is possible that a plea agreement could cover the Catawba and Caldwell charges because of the shared prosecutor’s office between the two counties.

The charges stem from a Nov. 1, 2011 search of Mayfield’s home, which has since been foreclosed on. The Iredell and Catawba charges included items missing from two NASCAR teams — Red Bull Racing and Fitz Motorsports.

Mayfield, who has not raced since 2009 when he failed a NASCAR drug test that he challenged unsuccessfully in court, has called the charges “baseless” and has proclaimed his innocence. He indicated the goods belonged to he and his wife and that they had been cooperating with investigators since November 2011.

“For some reason, the district attorney’s office simply ignored our offers to explain the sources of the items seized from my property and chose, instead, to indict,” Mayfield said in a statement when indicted.

“We do not know if there is any connection between the NASCAR lawsuit and this investigation, but based upon the evidence disclosed to us already by the district attorney’s office, it appears that the Catawba County authorities have been coordinating with NASCAR officials.”

According to the search warrant, a confidential source told police that Mayfield was among a group of people that broke into Fitz Motorsports and stole two surface plates to sell as scrap metal and broke into Red Bull Racing and stole audio equipment and aluminum flooring. Those break-ins are among the charges that Mayfield faces.

Mayfield won five Sprint Cup races in 433 career starts and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2004-05.