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Court returns guilty verdict for North Carolina sheriff

Last Thursday, a court found a former Chesterfield County sheriff guilty of one count of embezzlement, two counts of passing contraband to inmates and five counts of misconduct while in office. The sheriff was accused of allowing an inmate to consume alcohol, sleep away from the jail, see women without supervision and have the use of an iPad, according to court documents.

The investigation began when the sheriff allegedly punished an inmate he had previously helped to see his sick mother. The inmate reportedly got angry with the sheriff and went to the authorities about the sheriff's alleged transgressions. While the inmate was serving time for arson, he was sent to Chesterfield County under the supervision of the sheriff to help out with such tasks as maintaining county property and repairing cars.

Indictments against the sheriff contain allegations that he allowed the inmate who blew the whistle and another prisoner access to parties and to vehicles in addition to accompanying the sheriff on recreational outings.

The 19-page indictment also alleged the sheriff allowed the whistleblower inmate to have a bank account, Internet access and at least one visit with a woman for sexual activity. According to prosecutors in the case, the sheriff handed out confiscated weapons to his friends, including an M-14 semi-automatic rifle.

Even though the sheriff had a strong criminal defense attorney who fought for his client all the way through the trial, he was found guilty of his alleged crimes last week. The defense attorney has since said that the former police officer was targeted by overzealous prosecutors and maintains that the sheriff did not engage in any criminal actions. Anytime an authority figure is accused of criminal behavior, it often takes an extremely motivated defense attorney to cut through the extenuating circumstances and show the defendant in a positive light.

Source: The Times and Democrat, "Former Chesterfield sheriff found guilty in corruption trial" No author given, Apr. 18, 2014

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