Frank E. Blake Jr.’s latest round of legal problems started when his second and third wives showed up to visit him in jail at the same time.

The problem was that he hadn’t divorced wife No. 2 before he married wife No. 3. When police investigated, they found out that he also had married wife No. 2 before his divorce from wife No. 1 was finalized.

Blake pleaded no contest Tuesday to a charge of bigamy, stemming from the overlap between the end of his first marriage and the start of his second, which began in September 2012. Henrico County Circuit Judge L.A. Harris Jr. sentenced Blake to 1½ years of incarceration. The judge gave Blake a total sentence of five years, with 3½ years suspended.

If the case had gone to trial, the evidence would have shown that Blake married his second wife before his divorce with his first wife was final, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney LaToya Croxton. The evidence would then have shown that Blake married a third wife without ever making an attempt to divorce his second wife, she said.

But defense attorney Kevin D. Purnell pointed to the timing of the second marriage as evidence that Blake’s second wife might not have been an unwitting victim of bigamy.

Blake and his second wife went to the courthouse for a marriage license later on the same day that he received paperwork saying his first wife was filing for divorce, Purnell said. He quoted statements the second wife made to the police that suggested she knew the divorce wasn’t final.

Purnell also said his client has mental health and substance abuse issues.

Before being sentenced, Blake spoke briefly. “I want to apologize to all y’all in the courtroom,” he said.

He said he didn’t realize he was committing a felony when he committed to marriage.

“I didn’t know I was breaking the law at all,” he said. “You can put me on a lie detector.”

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