Category Archives: COURT
New Bern, North Carolina — District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, in Craven County Superior Court, XAVIER TAMAREE DSHAUN WHITE, 20, of New Bern, was convicted on his guilty plea to Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon (Armed Robbery), and was sentenced to a prison term.
On the evening of April 8, 2016, White, along with two co-defendants, planned a robbery of a delivery driver for a local pizza store. White, using a borrowed phone, called in an order and gave as the delivery address a vacant home which was for sale near his own residence. White and the two co-defendants then went to that residence, with one waiting inside to answer the door. White and the other defendant, armed with a handgun and shotgun respectively, waited outside and accosted the driver when she arrived at the delivery address. They threatened the use of the guns, leveling them at the driver and demanding money. They took the cash she had in her pockets and in her vehicle, as well as the food items.
The three persons involved were identified, found, and charged. The co- defendants, in response to police questioning, identified White as the ringleader. By the time police had caught up with the perpetrators, they had disposed of both firearms.
Prior to White’s case being called for trial, he entered a guilty plea to the armed robbery charge. Superior Court Judge Will Bland sentenced White to a prison term of 78 to 106 months (6 ½ to 8 ½ years). Upon White’s release from custody, he will be subject to nine months of post-release supervision, during which time his behavior will be monitored by a probation/parole officer.
The case was investigated by the New Bern Police Department, and prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Robert J. McAfee.
SCOTT E. THOMAS
Beaufort, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced the following defendants charged in ongoing Carteret County drug enforcement efforts entered guilty pleas prior to their cases being called for trial this week. The convictions were obtained during a special session of court, requested by District Attorney Thomas to address the caseload created by vigorous law enforcement efforts to counter illegal drug transactions. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford presided over this special session of court, and the cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney David Spence.
MARIO JONES, 36, of Newport, pled guilty to Attempted Trafficking in Opiates, and admitted his status as an Habitual Felon. Judge Alford sentenced Jones to a prison sentence of 105 to 138 months. Jones had three prior convictions for Felony Breaking and Entering, and prior drug convictions. Jones assisted co-defendant Dwayne McCoo in supplying oxycodone tablets to an undercover informant working with an investigator with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office in October, 2015.
KANDICE KAHLEY, 33, of Beaufort, pled guilty to Trafficking in Opiates and received an active prison sentence of 70 to 93 months. Kahley sold oxycodone tablets to an undercover informant working with a detective with the Morehead City Police Department in October, 2015. The transaction took place in the parking lot of the Wal- Mart in Morehead City. Kahley and co-defendant Phillip Thackston fled to Indiana and had to be extradited back to North Carolina to face these charges. Thackston pled guilty last month and received a prison sentence of 70 to 146 months.
MIKAEL DEWAIN DIXON, 44, of Newport, pled guilty to Trafficking in Opiates and twelve other lesser felony drug offenses, and received an active prison term of 70 to 93 months. Dixon sold oxycodone tablets to an undercover informant working with investigators with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office in June and July, 2015.
MICHAEL JOHNSON, 45, of Beaufort, pled guilty to Sale and Delivery of Oxycodone, and received an active prison sentence of 13 to 25 months. Johnson sold five tablets to an undercover informant working with the Morehead City Police Department. Johnson was already on a probationary sentence when he committed this offense, and the probationary sentence of 14 to 26 months was activated, and the sentences were ordered to run consecutively to each other.
PATRICK JONES, 26, of Beaufort, pled guilty to Sale of Heroin and was sentenced to a prison term of 15 to 29 months. The sale took place in March, 2016, at the Dutch Treat Mobile Home Park in Newport, where Jones sold 10 bindles of heroin to an undercover informant working with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.
JAMES KING, 31, of Havelock, pled guilty to Sale of Heroin and was sentenced to a term of 11 to 23 months in prison. King sold heroin to an informant working with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office, and the transaction took place in the parking lot of Gil’s Market in Newport, in December, 2015.
ANDRE MELVIN, 33, of New Bern, pled guilty to Possession with Intent to Sell or Deliver Cocaine, and received an active prison sentence of 6 to 17 months. Melvin was arrested after being found passed out behind the wheel of his car at the Speedway Mart in Newport. An officer with the Newport Police Department responded, and arrested Melvin for Resisting a Public Officer after Melvin gave the officer false identifying information. The officer located two bags of cocaine on Melvin during a search incident to arrest for the resisting charge. Melvin also faces drug charges in Craven County, where he is scheduled for trial next week.
MADELINE DARE JOHNSON, 27, of Morehead City, pled guilty to Sale of Heroin and six other felony offenses related to the sale of heroin in March 2015 and March 2016 to informants working with the Morehead City Police Department. Judge Alford sentenced Johnson to an active prison sentence of 8 to 19 months, followed by another sentence of 70 to 140 months which he suspended, and placed Johnson on supervised probation for five years, once she is released from prison.
Seven other defendants also pled guilty to felony drug charges during this special term of court, and received suspended sentences, based upon the circumstances of each case and the defendants’ lack of prior criminal record.
Scott E. Thomas | District Attorney
Bayboro, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, in Pamlico County Superior Court, SAMUEL TYLER POTTER, 26, of Grantsboro, entered guilty pleas in several cases against him, including one involving the death of his infant child in 2013. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford presided. The cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Karen Hobbs.
In August, 2012, the Pamlico County Fire Marshal was contacted by the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Department in reference to an illegal burning of a structure in Grantsboro. POTTER initially informed the Sheriff’s deputy that he was burning down an old chicken coop. When the Fire Marshal arrived, the coop and a shed were both on fire, and POTTER denied knowing how the fire started. POTTER was charged with, and pled guilty to, one count of Burning Other Buildings.
In January, 2014, the home of POTTER’s grandfather was broken into, and numerous firearms were stolen. The Sheriff’s Department served defendant with outstanding orders for arrest for other cases, and while defendant was in custody, his grandfather spoke to him, and POTTER admitted having done the break-in and theft. When POTTER arrived at the jail, he ran from the deputies, who gave chase and captured him. The firearms were ultimately returned. POTTER was charged with, and pled guilty to, Felony Breaking & Entering and Felony Larceny.
While in the Pamlico Jail, POTTER called local bondsman, Reginald Beasley, to arrange for the posting of his secured bond. Beasley went to the jail, and posted POTTER’s bond, and took POTTER to his grandfather’s house, where he was supposed to have the money to pay Beasley. While Beasley was trying to find a safe that POTTER described, POTTER began hitting Beasley in the back of the head. After Beasley fell to the ground, POTTER attacked him with a machete. Beasley attempted to defend himself, and POTTER then tried to take Beasley’s handgun. POTTER ran to the house, and took his grandfather’s rifle; however, after his grandfather got the rifle away from POTTER,
POTTER then grabbed a knife and stabbed himself in the neck. Beasley was taken to Vidant Medical Center with multiple injuries requiring treatment and hospitalization. POTTER was charged with, and pled guilty to, one count of Attempted First Degree Murder.
On December 28, 2013, Pamlico County Rescue was called to POTTER’s residence on a call of an infant not breathing. The child, Brayden Potter, 8 months of age, was found with blood in his mouth and on his shirt. When the child arrived at CarolinaEast Medical Center, his temperature was 105 degrees, and he was declared dead shortly thereafter. POTTER told the doctor that the child had been crying and agitated for several days. POTTER said he had given Brayden Tylenol, and put him to bed. When he checked on Brayden 12 minutes later, the child was unresponsive, but vomited some and began to bleed from his mouth. The final autopsy and toxicology screening were completed on June 27, 2014. They showed diphenhydramine poisoning (Benadryl), with a lethal concentration in Brayden’s liver and blood. The Sheriff’s Department then began a death investigation after receiving the autopsy results. POTTER admitted that he had given Brayden a dropper full of Benadryl, and later had mixed Benadryl into Brayden’s formula. According to the printed instructions for Benadryl, it is not to be given to children under age 6 except under a doctor’s supervision. POTTER pled guilty to one count of Voluntary Manslaughter.
Judge Alford sentenced POTTER to a total sentence of 19 to 25 years in prison.
Developer challenges common practice of utility-imposed impact fees
RALEIGH – Many states have statutes that allow county-owned utilities to collect a charge from developers known as an ‘impact fee’ – but that is not the case in North Carolina, according to a late August decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court.
An impact fee — often sizeable — is usually set aside by a utility to help fund future expansion. These charges are known to be a thorn in the side of large developers. Apparently one smart attorney for Quality Homes, which is constructing new homes near Carthage, spotted the shortcoming – more than earning his legal fees, say insiders familiar with the case.
The repercussions for utilities like the Pamlico County Water Department could be devastating. In a Sept 19 session off-limits to the public and to news media, New Bern attorney Jimmie Hicks told elected officials that the local water utility could possibly face the prospect of refunding millions in previously collected impact fees – a scenario that is likely being played out in numerous jurisdictions throughout the state.
Tuesday afternoon, Pamlico County Manager Tim Buck released a two-paragraph statement, which hints at the quandary now confronting counties.
By David Cox
Last Friday the Federal Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned North Carolina’s 2013 voter law. Although the law was titled “Voter Identification Verification Act,” it incorporated many other provisions governing elections. The Court ruled that those provisions were passed with “discriminatory intent” to obstruct voting by minorities, and therefore violated the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.
The North Carolina Board of Elections has notified County Boards of Election that their attorneys are reviewing the opinion and considering options. If the decision remains in effect for the general election, it will have the following effects on elections:
1. There will be no photo ID requirement (except for some first time voters)
2. One-stop early voting will be for a 17-day period instead of 10 days
3. Same-day registration will be offered during one-stop
4. Out-of-precinct voting and pre-registration of 17 year olds will also be allowed.
North Carolina lawmakers overhauled the state’s election law soon after the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which freed certain states with a history of discrimination from a Voting Rights Act requirement that they receive federal approval before changing voting rules.
A number of states passed restrictive voting laws almost immediately after the decision, although nothing in Shelby changed or reduced any substantive requirements of the Voting Rights Act.
North Carolina was one of the states. Similar restrictive laws passed in other states, including Texas and Wisconsin, have also recently been overturned by Federal Courts.
Gov. Pat McCrory and state legislators intend to appeal the Court’s decision, but are still working out details. Attorney General Roy Cooper has refused to file an appeal.
Voting rights advocates are delighted with the Fourth Circuit’s decision and do not believe that North Carolina will succeed in any appeal.
SCOTT E. THOMAS
State of North Carolina
General Court of Justice Prosecutorial District Three B
Beaufort, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced the following felony drug convictions obtained by his office during this week’s Carteret County Superior Court term, with Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford presiding. The cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney David Spence.
ROBERT EARL COX, 59, of Newport, pled guilty to one count of Trafficking in Methamphetamine, and two counts of Sale of Methamphetamine, and was sentenced to a prison term of 70 to 93 months. COX was arrested on July 3, 2015, by detectives with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office after execution of a search warrant at his house in Newport. The sales were both to a confidential informant in June, 2015. Judge Alford also imposed a $ 50,000 fine on COX. COX faces additional charges in Craven County.
EDWARD ALLEGRETTI, 62, of Morehead City, was convicted of one count of Trafficking in Opiates and received a prison sentence of 70 to 93 months. ALLEGRETTI sold 4.26 grams of Hydrocodone to an informant working with the Morehead City Police Department, on November 26, 2014. Judge Alford imposed a $ 50,000 fine on ALLEGRETTI, also.
GEORGE BRYAN BOSTWICK, 29, of Newport, pled guilty to two counts of Sale of Heroin to an informant working with the Morehead City Police Department and the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office. The sales occurred in December, 2015. Judge Alford sentenced BOSTWICK to two consecutive prison terms of 13 to 25 months each.
CLARA MELISSA ADAMS, 45, of Newport, pled guilty to two counts of Sale of Oxycodone to an undercover informant working with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office in July, 2015. Judge Alford sentenced ADAMS to two consecutive 12 to 24 month prison terms.
Bizarre case takes legal-textbook twist on appeal
PAMLICO COUNTY – In a recent press release, District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, on May 17, 2016, in Craven County Superior Court, Judy Hardison of Alliance, entered a guilty plea to the felony offense of Obtaining Property by False Pretense.
In late 2013, Hardison was originally charged in Pamlico County with six counts of Contamination of a Public Water Supply, and one count of Obtaining Property by False Pretense. After the venue was changed to Craven County, a jury trial was held in April 2014, and the jury convicted Hardison of all counts.
The presiding judge sentenced Hardison to consecutive prison terms on the Contamination charges, but withheld judgment on the Obtaining Property by False Pretenses.
Evidence from the trial and investigation showed that on each occasion described in the indictments, Hardison had arranged for a cohort, Rodney Brame, to damage public water pipes in Pamlico County.
Hardison owned a company, which subsequently repaired the pipes. And on each occasion after Hardison’s company repaired the pipes, she submitted a bill to Pamlico County for the payment for such services, totaling over $ 25,000.
Before Hardison’s trial, Brame pleaded guilty to related offenses. He later testified during her trial, clearly implicating Hardison as the instigator of the criminal endeavors.
Following her conviction, Hardison successfully appealed her conviction and sentence. The North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, finding that the theory by which the State proved Hardison’s guilt was not supported by the particular facts in the case.
However, the Court of Appeals noted in its opinion that, under a theory of conspiracy or being an accessory before the fact, the convictions would likely have been upheld. The State filed a petition with the North Carolina Supreme Court to review the case, but that petition was denied.
Because the trial court had never imposed judgment in the Obtaining Property by False Pretense charge, the State proceeded on that felony matter, and Hardison pleaded guilty to that remaining charge.
Hardison was sentenced to a prison term of 6 to 17 months; but because she had already served approximately 18 months following the initial conviction, she was given credit for time served. The requirement to repay restitution remained in effect, and Hardison was credited with the $ 25,000 she paid to Pamlico County before her initial sentencing.
Two days after Hardison’s guilty plea, Brame was released from incarceration by the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction. He is on post-release supervision (similar to parole) until February 2017.
New Bern, North Carolina — District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, in Craven County Superior Court this week, KYWINE VELASQUEZ, 17, of New Bern, pled guilty to charges arising out of a home invasion last July, and was sentenced to prison. Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb, Jr., presided over this session of court, and the cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Karen Hobbs.
At approximately 10:20 p.m. on July 30, 2015, VELASQUEZ, wearing a hoodie and a towel or t-shirt across part of his face, burst into the home of the victim in Craven County, armed with a handgun. VELASQUEZ demanded the victim turn over all of his weapons, which VELASQUEZ knew the victim owned. The victim, aged 56, did not comply, and VELASQUEZ shot him in the stomach and fled. The victim was taken to Vidant Medical Center and treated.
The victim was able to identify VELASQUEZ by his voice and height (6’4”), because VELASQUEZ had been in the victim’s home on previous occasions due to his friendship with a family member of the victim.
VELASQUEZ pled guilty to Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon, First Degree Burglary, and Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury. Judge Cobb sentenced VELASQUEZ to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 14 years in prison.
The case was investigated by the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, led by investigator Brian Peluso.
BAYBORO — District Attorney Scott Thomas announced Monday a series of convictions obtained during last week’s Superior Court term, presided over by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford.
The following cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney Laura Bell:
WILLIE LEE FISHER, 56, of Bayboro:
Fisher pled guilty, prior to the trial calendar being called, to Statutory Rape (Greater Than 6 Year Age Difference). In 2010, evidence showed, Fisher had sexual intercourse with a female victim who was 13 years of age at the time. This happened on more than one occasion during that year, and at the time, Fisher was 50 years old. Judge Alford sentenced Fisher to 365 to 447 months (30 to 37 years) in prison.
ANDREW NEWTON, 29, of Grantsboro:
Newton pled guilty to the following: 9 counts of Obtaining Property by False Pretense; Forgery; Breaking and Entering a Motor Vehicle; Financial Card Theft; two counts of Breaking and Entering a Building; and Newton admitted his status as an Habitual Felon. These charges arose in both Pamlico and Craven Counties. In 2014, Newton broke into a storage building and took various tools and checks. The Pamlico Sheriff’s Department was able to track down the tools, and developed Newton as a suspect. Meanwhile, Newton broke into another building and stole two handcrafted rods and reels. He also went to Walmart, Pinedale Food Mart, Food Lion, and Shop Quick, and made purchases with the stolen checks and stolen credit cards. Finally, Newton was found in possession of jewelry that had been stolen from a residence in Stonewall. Judge Alford sentenced Newton to a consolidated sentence of 78 to 106 months in prison.
GARY MILLER, 54, of Merritt:
Miller pled guilty to Manufacturing Methamphetamine. On July 28, 2015, Pamlico Sheriff’s Department officers executed a search warrant at Miller’s home. They had obtained the warrant on information they received from the community and extensive surveillance of the home. In Miller’s home, they found various items of drug paraphernalia, and an active methamphetamine lab that was hidden in the back of a clothes dryer. Miller was taken into custody at that time, and remained in custody since. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was contacted to assist with the investigation and dismantling of the lab. Judge Alford sentenced Miller to 50 to 72 months in prison.
GRANT RONNIE McNAIR, 52, of Bayboro:
McNair was found guilty by a jury of Resisting/Delaying/Obstructing a Police Officer, and Driving with No Operator’s License following a trial lasting approximately a half-day. On August 31, 2013, at 10:17 p.m., NC State Highway Patrol Trooper Casner pulled McNair for minor traffic violations. While speaking with McNair, Trooper Casner found him to be uncooperative and argumentative. After searching records from the NC DMV, Trooper Casner determined that McNair did not have a valid driver’s license. The trooper returned to McNair’s vehicle to deliver the citations, but McNair had his door open. After instructing McNair several times to close the car door, Trooper Casner then attempted to arrest him. McNair further resisted, and a struggle ensued. McNair was taken into custody by Trooper Casner and Deputy Cobb of the Pamlico County Sheriff’s Department. The jury returned its verdict in a matter of minutes. Judge Alford sentenced McNair to 120 days in prison.
Beaufort, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that a Carteret County jury convicted STEPHEN PAUL GOMOLA, 26, of Morehead City, of Involuntary Manslaughter, following a week-long trial in Carteret County Superior Court. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford presided over the trial.
GOMOLA was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter after a July 4, 2013, fight outside Jack’s Waterfront Bar in Morehead City. GOMOLA punched Stephen Johnson at one point, and Johnson fell into the water and drowned. Rescue divers recovered his body.
The case was first tried in 2015, but resulted in a mistrial. This week’s trial began on Monday, and the jury began its deliberations at 2:00 this afternoon. They returned their guilty verdict after a little more than an hour’s deliberations.
Judge Alford sentenced GOMOLA to a prison term of 16 to 29 months, and ordered that GOMOLA pay a $ 10,000 fine and the funeral expenses of the victim.
District Attorney Scott Thomas said, “We are pleased the jury returned a verdict of guilty. We believed all along the evidence supported this decision by the jury. The defendant’s conduct was dangerous and resulted in a death. Assistant District Attorney Spence, Investigator Evans, and Legal Assistant Gillikin did a great job preparing this case and presenting it to the jury. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Johnson family as they continue to deal with the loss of their son.”
The case was prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorney David Spence, with Legal Assistant Michelle Gillikin. Morehead City Police Department Investigator Lyle Evans headed the investigation.