A former narcotics officer from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office was placed on probation for four years and ordered by the judge to pay back more than $13,000 he took from the agency’s Narcotics Task Force during Burke County Superior Court Wednesday (March 6).
46-year-old Jody Wayne Price of Morganton, was given a suspended sentence of 13 to 25 months by the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court from Burke County, following his guilty plea to embezzlement by a public official/trustee. Judge Ervin placed the former officer on probation with the order that he pay $13,329 in restitution.
Price was a lieutenant for the Burke County Narcotics Task Force and was relieved of his duties in March 2018 after it was discovered that he had been taking Task Force drug funds for his own personal use. Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant requested that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation conduct an investigation of the embezzlement.
Findings showed that from August 1, 2017, to March 1, 2018, Price submitted check requests to the administrative finance office for special funds. If the funds were available, the check request was sent to accounts payable with a check issued directly to Price. Checks were mailed directly to the Narcotics Task Force, and Price would cash them using his personal bank account. He then distributed a portion of the funds for the Task Force’s operations. During that timeframe, he also took some of the funds for his own personal use.
Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon noted that Price violated the trust of the public and the Burke County Sheriff’s Office by taking advantage of his specialized role as head of the Task Force. As a result of Price’s involvement in a number of felony cases being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, dozens of cases had to be dismissed or could not be prosecuted because of the compromised integrity of Price’s actions.