Category Archives: — CRAVEN COUNTY

Murder suspect pleads guilty before trial



New Bern, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, in Craven County Superior Court today, JONATHAN PUGH, 21, of Havelock, entered guilty pleas in the cases against him, including murder, and was sentenced to a lengthy prison term. The cases were scheduled for jury trial for March 27, 2017. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ben Alford presided, and the cases were prosecuted in court by District Attorney Scott Thomas and Assistant District Attorney Karen Hobbs and Assistant District Attorney Terry Light.

On April 14, 2013, Havelock Police received a call regarding shots fired at Flyers, a club located off Highway 101 / Fontana Boulevard. They found the victim, Todd Asa North, inside the doorway of the club, having been shot four times. Mr. North was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officers also found that five other people had been shot, but not fatally. Police interviewed more than 25 witnesses, and reviewed surveillance video from the club. Based on their investigation, they put together the following sequence of events: prior to the shooting, there was an altercation inside the club between two groups of people. One group consisted of PUGH – then 18 years of age — and his brother and friend. Both groups were escorted out of the club by security, including Todd North. During that escort, there was a further altercation between the security employees and PUGH.

PUGH left the area and returned to the club with a weapon. PUGH fired several rounds from the handgun (a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson) in the air, then walked to the front door of the club and fired into the club multiple times. Witnesses inside the club stated that Todd North was told about the gun in the parking lot, and retrieved his own weapon, and stood at the door of the club to prevent PUGH from coming inside. PUGH shot North four times, and North managed to shoot PUGH one time in the abdomen. PUGH then fled the scene. Havelock Police immediately reviewed the video footage, and were able to identify PUGH. They tracked him down and took him into custody, finding the gun in his waistband. PUGH was transported to the hospital for treatment,

and was found to have no detectable alcohol in his blood. All of the recovered shell casings matched PUGH’s weapon.

The five other persons shot suffered various injuries requiring medical treatment.

PUGH pled guilty to the following counts: Second Degree Murder; Discharging a Weapon into Occupied Property, and five counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill Inflicting Serious Injury. Judge Alford sentenced PUGH to consecutive prison sentences, all totaling 495 to 630 months in prison (41 to 52 years).

District Attorney Scott Thomas said: “We are pleased the defendant has pled guilty and been sentenced up to 52 years in prison. We believed, based on the facts, a sentence in the life range was appropriate. A sentence up to 52 years for this 21-year-old defendant is essentially a life sentence. Pugh killed one person, injured five others and put even more at risk by his violent criminal conduct. Had Pugh not pled guilty today, his trial for these offenses would have begun March 27. The North family supports this guilty plea and sentence. They are glad to have the prosecution reach this successful conclusion.”

The case was investigated by the Havelock Police Department, with assistance from the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and a firearms expert from the North Carolina State Crime Lab in Raleigh.

What’s in a Name? Town upgrade worth the effort!

Photo credit: Alan Welch

By Alan Welch

BRIDGETON — It took a while to convert a neglected weed patch into a warmly, inviting welcome to the small town of Bridgeton, but the wait and effort was well worth it.

It was a joint effort between me – in my capacity as an elected official on the Bridgeton Town Council – the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and the Bridgeton Improvement Committee, spearheaded by then president George Burens.

Since the state’s Department of Transportation owns the site (adjacent to Highway 17 through town), we kicked the initiative off by contacting state officials! After meetings with the Bridgeton Town Councils, DOT representatives agreed that the area did need — and deserved – a thorough enhancing! Fortunately, they approved releasing funds from the Department’s Beautification Fund. This fund comes from charges paid for vanity tags seen on private vehicles so no tax monies were involved.

The next step was to let the project out for bid and selecting a contractor to actually convert the agreed upon plan into reality. Once the landscaping was complete, Bridgeton Improvement Committee stepped up and funded both the flagpole and the newly installed town name.

What’s in a name? A bit of civic pride, a desire to make one’s home a little nicer, a new look for a somewhat neglected town. Working together can produce results!

Drug trafficker sentenced to prison


Scott E. Thomas | District Attorney

New Bern, North Carolina – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that, in Craven County Superior Court this week, MARCUS EDWARD EARL GOLDEN, 52, of New Bern, pled guilty to drug trafficking charges and was sentenced to a prison term. Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Parsons presided over this criminal term of court, and Assistant District Attorney Chekesha Hukins prosecuted the case in court.

GOLDEN was serving a probationary sentence in 2015, when his residence was searched twice. Persons who are under supervised probation are subject to a standard term of probation that allows for warrantless searches of the person and premises by their probation officer, assisted by law enforcement if needed. During the searches, officers found both a trafficking amount of methadone pills and oxycodone pills in GOLDEN’s residence, as well as a semi-automatic handgun wrapped in a shirt on a dresser. The pills were found in both GOLDEN’s pockets and a piggy bank in the residence. GOLDEN has been a convicted felon since February 2014, and is prohibited from possessing firearms.

Prior to his cases being called for trial, GOLDEN pled guilty to the following charges: two counts of Trafficking in Opium by Possession, one count of Possession of Firearm by Felon, one count of Possession of Cocaine, and one count of Maintaining a Dwelling for Controlled Substances.

Judge Parsons sentenced GOLDEN to a combined sentence of 70 to 93 months in prison. GOLDEN will be subject to a term of post-release supervision of nine months, during which time he will be subject to similar warrantless searches.

New rules for shrimp trawls topic of meeting

Expert on each side of controversy offers insights

A large crowd turned out for the public meeting.

By Raynor James

Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association


Jerry Schill (left) and Donald Willis were the evening’s speakers.

NEW BERN – Tuesday night, Feb. 21, numerous fishermen and their families; two Craven County Commissioners (Jason Jones and Johnnie Sampson, with his wife); District Court Judge Josh Willey, and assorted CCTA regulars showed up at the group’s regular monthly meeting.

The draw?  They all came to hear Donald Willis, Vice President of the Coastal Conservation Association (representing sports fishermen and environmentalists); and, Jerry Schill, President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association (representing commercial fishermen).

Their topic, of course, was the ongoing controversy over a petition for rulemaking filed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, which was approved last week in a split vote by the Marine Fisheries Commission.

The MFC is an appointed board that sets fishing policy in North Carolina – with that policy implemented through rules and regulations administered by a state agency known as the Division of Marine Fisheries.

It would be natural to assume that, because the Marine Fisheries Commission has now approved rules drastically curtailing shrimp trawls in the state’s coastal waters, the debate is over. However, that appears to be far from true!

Donald Willis, who is also the owner/operator of Custom Marine Fabrications on Highway 70 in James City, spoke first.

Willis said that in the early days, 90 percent of Custom Marine Fabrications’ work came from supporting sportsmen who were fishing for spots, croakers, and grey trout. He added that three local businesses supplied 80 percent of the baits for those three species of fish.

“Those fish aren’t here anymore,” he asserted.

As a result, Willis and the bait suppliers have each had to change their business model in order to continue to earn a living, albeit in his case with a significant reduction in income.

Willis pointed out that the petition — which would greatly change the rules for shrimpers by further limiting where, when, with what equipment, and for how long commercial shrimpers can work — was not brought by the Coastal Conservation Association, and added, “We were surprised by it.”

Willis said he “doubted” whether the petition will stand as written. He discussed the process for implementation and pointed out ways changes can be made during the process. Then, he pointed out that if one considers the entire southeast (including coastal states from Texas to North Carolina) the North Carolina shrimp output is only 3 percent of the total.

He further commented that, if passed, North Carolina would still have the most liberal rules for shrimping. Willis received polite applause when he concluded his remarks.

Jerry Schill gave a brief history of his organization, which represents commercial fishermen, seafood dealers, and processors. He characterized fishermen as the most independent, stubborn, cantankerous, and almost the hardest working people he knows.

(Schill grew up on a farm, and maintained with a grin that only milking cows twice a day, every day is harder.)

He said he was once asked by an academic economist if it wouldn’t be a good thing if “we could come up with a guaranteed wage” for fishermen. His reply was: “You’d ruin them.” They routinely fill up with expensive fuel, and go out, not knowing what they’ll catch, or what price fish will bring that day!

Willie Etheridge from Wanchese used to go out in storms nobody else would venture out in, but when he returned, he got top dollar for his catch. Thus, Mr. Shill made the point that fishermen thrive in a world in which risk is balanced by reward.

“In the 1980s when I started with the Fisheries Association, by-catch was a new idea.  We designed our own devices. Did it voluntarily. We designed TEDs, turtle excluder devices, and turtles have rebounded.”

Schill went on to explain that by-catch reduction was at first done voluntarily, and only later required by the state.

“Over the years, one of the things we’ve worked hardest on is shrimp trawl by-catch reduction.  We lead the nation in that.”

Three years ago, there was a petition to ban fishing in inside waters, and fishermen went through a similar process to the recent one with a public meeting in New Bern at which fishermen arrived in many cases by water. The public was heard and there was scientific input, the advisory committees recommended against the petition, and, ultimately, the Marine Fisheries Commission voted to deny it.

“This time, the area goes three miles out. It’s not a ban, but the restrictions are severe.  We’re limited to three days and no night-time shrimping.  Down south, they shrimp in the shipping lanes approaching the port of Wilmington. Little shrimp boats don’t want to be there challenging ships in the daytime. You know who’d win!”

Schill went on to say that the number of fishing boats has declined over the years; the number of packing facilities has declined; the average age of fishermen has increased; and the number of processors has gone from about 47 down to 6.

He raised a question he’s probably been asked, “Why are you against regulations?”  Then he answered himself, “Because we’re red blooded Americans!”  And he added, “People who want regulations want to hold back their competition.”

Because of the declining numbers Schill quoted, one might conclude that competitors for the resources — which support commercial fishermen — have been successful in encouraging regulation.

Schill moved from the history of creeping (galloping?) regulation, to the current petition. He mentioned the huge (about 1,000 attendees) meeting at the New Bern Riverfront Convention at which the five advisory committees voted overwhelmingly to recommend against the petition, including the votes of all of the scientists (except one who sits on the Marine Fisheries Commission as well as on an advisory committee).

He said the Commission that approved the petition while meeting in Wilmington did so with two sports fishermen sitting in the at-large seats. It was intended that the Commission be composed of an equal number of sports and commercial fishermen, a scientist, and two at-large seats to be filled by consumers, restaurant owners, or somebody else who has a stake.

However, before he left office, former Gov. Pat McCrory appointed two sports fishermen to these seats deliberately giving the balance of power on the commission to the sports fishermen.  Why?

No matter the answer, the story isn’t over!

An 18 to 24 month process is beginning.  Ninety percent of the people in North Carolina do not fish, but most of us like shrimp, fish, and other delicious North Carolina (not imported) seafood. Those of us in that category need to let our members of the North Carolina Senate and House know we want shrimping in North Carolina to thrive, and for that to happen, the severe proposed restrictions on shrimping must not be implemented.

If we don’t speak out, it won’t be appropriate to complain when we can no longer buy North Carolina seafood in restaurants and seafood markets.

Shrimping debate continues

NEW BERN — Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association has invited a speaker on both sides of the controversial issue.

Jerry Schill, President of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, will represent commercial fishermen; and, Donald Willis, Vice President of Coastal Conservation Association in North Carolina and President of the Neuse River Chapter will represent recreational fishermen.

Each man will present an argument for, or against, the NC Wildlife Federation Petition for Rulemaking to designate all coastal fishing waters not already classified as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas; establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season; and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in the special secondary nursery areas in season.

The format of this presentation is designed to explain the petition and primary effects from both points of view, allow questions from the audience, and give those in attendance an opportunity to decide where they stand. The CCTA public meeting will begin at 7 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the Stanly Hall Ballroom at 305 Pollock Street, downtown New Bern. Note, for easy access there is also an elevator entrance at 249 Craven Street.

Cardoza to sign latest book

Next Chapter Books in downtown New Bern hosts local author Brian Cordoza for a book signing Saturday, Feb. 11 from noon until 3 p.m. Cardoza recently produced ‘Chasing Immortality,’ a two-hour production in which he and other victims of abuse share their compelling stories real-time before a rapt audience.

New Bern Preservation Foundation Antiques Show & Sale next weekend

RIVERFRONT CONVENTION CENTER – Ticket buyers may take advantage of a free appraisal service from noon until 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11 – 12. Show organizers, including Lee Purcell, expect to see a great many family heirlooms and other treasures arriving during the popular show. “Visitors coming from a distance with up to three items each have been disappointed in previous years if they missed the times,”
said Purcell, “so we try to be clear on this point. Please be sure to stress the noon to 3 p.m. time frame on Saturday and Sunday of the show!” Ticket are just $10 per person, and cover admission on all three days. Visit or call (252) 633-6448. The show begins Friday, Feb. 10, and continues Saturday and Sunday.

Antiques Show helps preserve town’s beloved ‘Depot’

NEW BERN — Whether the hunt is for that vintage home decorating piece or for collectable memorabilia or for that special piece of jewelry, it all can be discovered at the Antiques Show and Sale being held at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center from February 10th through 12th.

Your single ticket ($8 in advance) is good for all three days so you can come back again and again! With over 35 dealers attending this year, one will find an array of fine and unusual antiques, collectibles, art, furniture, jewelry and even congressional autographs and circus posters. Step back in time as you browse the aisles of the show, discovering new treasures along with a picturesque view of the river. Experts will be available to evaluate your rare find or family heirloom so feel free to bring in up to three items for assessment.

New Bern Preservation Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic, architectural, and cultural heritage. An appearance by the Carolina Coastal Railroaders is design to drive home the point that show funds are intended for special projects like the future ‘Depot’ purchase and restoration!

Tickets available at Mitchell Hardware and

Former fishing agency director does ‘about face’ as consultant on controversial petition

By Doug Cross
Pamlico Packing Co.

Former fishing agency director does ‘about face’ as consultant for controversial petition

NEW BERN – Tuesday, Jan. 17, many of the commercial fishermen of this state again gathered at the Riverfront Convention Center to protest a petition that would eliminate trawling in North Carolina waters.

The petition, while guised as a measure “to reduce trawling effort,” would restrict trawling to the point that it would no longer be feasible as a way to earn a profit. Representatives of the Southern Environmental Law Group and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation made numerous statements of how “this does not eliminate trawling from the North Carolina waters” but it will do just that.

During the public hearing, a concerned consumer asked: “If you cut back the farming acreage of a farmer by 65 to 70 percent, do you actually believe he can still make a profit and survive?” This is exactly what they already realize and have put forth in this petition to accomplish.

For any petition that has such catastrophic effects on so many people’s lives, the data and science behind it must be questioned.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation, as part of its research, enlisted several people to consult with them to help write and devise the petition. One of these, Dr. Louis Daniel, is a former Director of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Division. During his tenure as director, Daniel was questioned on numerous occasions about the very same by-catch issues that the North Carolina Wildlife Federation has now highlighted in their petition.

As a matter of fact, on Oct. 2, 2012, then Director Daniel wrote a letter to the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group, contradicting several charges directed at him and at the Division. (Please pay particular attention to the highlighted passages in this three-page letter):


Dr. Daniel, at that time, used data gathered by his state agency, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, and by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to show factual and accurate answers to many of the same accusations that are now listed in the North Carolina Wildlife Federation petition.

The question is: “How can an individual — who at the time of this letter used accurate and factual data to answer questions – now consult on a petition against the very same data?” How can Daniel consult and advise where we see the same age-old studies on by-catch used to illustrate their arguments where they best summarize with “We think, and we believe?” The question is troubling enough – the answer may be much worse. One fact: While the petition was being presented, Daniel was not at the presenting table to answer questions. That very fact should be enlightening enough!

Property Owners raise $2.75 million for purchase of 385 acres, including golf courses

By Gayle Albertini

FAIRFIELD HARBOUR – In late December, Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association purchased 385 acres, collectively known as the Amenities Property, for $2.75 Million from MidSouth Golf LLC – a third party owner since 2000.

The acreage consists of Birdland Marina, Shoreline Marina, Harbour Pointe Golf Course, and open space once known as Shoreline Golf Course.

In June of 2016 — after lengthy negotiations — MidSouth Golf presented its offer to sell. A community vote, required to purchase the Amenities Property, passed overwhelmingly on August 17th.

A loan for the purchase amount was a requirement but repayment could not legally come from FHPOA dues paid by its members, according to the NC state courts. Community restrictions for repayment of a loan for real property had to come from non-dues income such as proceeds from the Harbour Pointe golf course managed by Billy Casper Golf, the marinas and other POA sources.

The option to borrow money from commercial banks was pursued immediately in order to meet the end-of-year expiration of the property purchase offer. While lending institutions were being pursued, two separate groups were formed within Fairfield Harbour as another way or raising capital.

The first was Fairfield Harbour Partners (FH Partners), which offered Association members an investment alternative similar to the terms being offered by a bank. The second group, “Sponsor an Acre,” accepted contributions (or gifts) from those who wanted to help save the community’s property values by contributing toward the purchase.

In a short period of time, both of these community groups had commitments that collectively exceeded the $2.75 million requirement.

In the middle of December, the Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association analyzed all loan options available and concluded that the terms of the FH Partners were more favorable. The property purchase closed before year-end, after nearly a decade of litigation with MidSouth Golf, which had cost the Property Owners Association significantly in legal expenses. The ownership of the Amenities Property will give Fairfield Harbour the ability to improve the property value for the benefit of all Association members. This purchase is expected to have a positive impact on home and lot sales.

The next step for Fairfield Harbour Property Owners Association is to determine the wants of the members in order to assess and evaluate suggestions for land use. Community spaces are thought of differently than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Open space needs to be more functional and flexible to grow with the changing times.

Fairfield Harbour is a gated, residential resort and retirement community located north of the Neuse River, approximately 10 miles from New Bern at the confluence of Upper Broad Creek and Northwest Creek. For more information, visit