37-year-old Thomas Allen Gipson of 16th Avenue N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 11:50 last night (May 16) on one felony count of assault inflicting serious injury including strangulation. He was also charged with three counts of misdemeanor larceny and one count of failure to appear on a larceny charge.
The assault charge comes in connection to an incident on April 12 of this year. The victim was strangled and was taken to Frye Regional Medical Center for treatment. At least some of the larceny charges originated in Gaston County.
Following his arrest yesterday, Gipson was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $30,000, secured. He’ll appear in District Court today on the assault charge. Additional court dates were set for June 5 & 6, plus a July 21 appearance in Gaston County.
27-year-old Antonio Carnell White of 11th Street S.W. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police shortly after midnight yesterday (May 16) on one felony count each of possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine, possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana and possession of cocaine, plus misdemeanor counts of driving while license revoked and resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer. Probation & Parole Officers also charged White with a felony probation violation.
He was arrested following a vehicle stop at the intersection of 1st Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W. Officers found one gram of crack cocaine, 4.9 grams of cocaine and 13.6 grams of marijuana. White attempted to flee on foot, but was taken into custody without further incident.
White is on probation as her serves a suspended sentence following a March 2015 conviction in Catawba County on felony drug charges involving schedule II and VI controlled substances.
He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $70,000 secured bond. White was scheduled to make an appearance in District Court yesterday in Newton. He’ll appear in court on the probation violation on May 22 with another court date on the other charges coming up on June 1.
24-year-old Kevin Alejandro Rodriguez, 20-year-old Sierra Miranda Gomez, and 44-year-old Dana Rochelle Gomez, all of Lincolnton, were all arrested by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. Two additional suspects charged in this case had not yet been served arrest warrants.
Rodriguez was charged with one felony count each of trafficking schedule II controlled substance by sale, delivery, transport, and possession, the sale and delivery of Schedule II controlled substance, and two felony counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance.
Sierra Gomez is charged with two felony counts each of sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance and possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance along with one felony count each of sell and deliver schedule VI controlled substance, possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule VI controlled substance, conspire to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance, and conspire to sell and deliver schedule VI controlled substance.
Dana Gomez was charged with one felony count each of sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance and possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule II controlled substance.
On Tuesday (May 16) the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit charged five people with multiple drug offenses. The charges come after a several months-long investigation targeting the sale and delivery of methamphetamine, opioid pain pills, cocaine, and marijuana. According to detectives, surveillance and undercover techniques were used to purchase the drugs from individuals at multiple locations throughout Lincoln County. Most of the undercover buys were street level purchases for small amounts. However, one subject sold undercover detectives a trafficking amount of opioid pain pills.
Two subjects charged but who had not yet been served are 18-year-old Austin Shane McCutcheon of Denver and 34-year-old Justin Tyler Garrett of Cherryville. They’re each facing one felony count of Conspiring to Sell and Deliver Schedule II Controlled Substance. Garrestt is also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. McCutcheon is currently in jail under unrelated charges and will be served the additional warrants. Garrett had not been located.
Rodriquez received a $50,000 secured bond, Sierra Gomez' bond was set at $20,000 secured, and Dana Gomez received a $7,500 secured bond. Court dates were not listed.
A Morganton man will spend at least 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to the statutory rape of a 14-year-old female. The plea was entered during Burke County Superior Court on Monday (May 15).
24-year-old Pasqual Mendez was given an active prison term of 12 to 19 years in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County. The defendant also will be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 30 years.
Officers from Morganton Department of Public Safety responded to a call in May 2016 for an assault at a residence in Morganton. The victim was found crying in the back yard and told officers the defendant hit her and shoved her down because she did not cook dinner. Mendez alleged the two were married and told officers he had purchased the 14-year-old girl from Guatemala six months earlier.
During a forensic interview with the Gingerbread House Child Advocacy Center, the victim told investigators that her mother and the defendant arranged the relationship, and she met him for the first time when she arrived at the airport in Charlotte.
Her life consisted of cooking and cleaning for him and being forced to engage in sexual activity with him every day. She informed investigators she did not want the sexual acts to take place and tried to push away the defendant. A medical examination revealed that she was pregnant. The victim is in custody of the Burke County Department of Social Services. She has no known family in the area.
Kyle Goforth investigated the case for Morganton Department of Public Safety. Assistant District Attorney Michelle Lippert handled prosecution for the State.
19-year-old Damion Michael Horton, 45-year-old Shanan Marie Lovell and 43-year-old Michael James Horton were all arrested at about 7:20 last night (May 16) by Hickory Police Officers. According to the Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office website, Damion Horton and Lovell are both homeless persons from Hickory, while Michael Horton is listed as a homeless person from Newton. All three suspects were charged with felony possession of heroin and misdemeanor counts of breaking & entering and possession of drug paraphernalia.
All three were taken into custody without incident at a building on 14th Street N.E. in Hickory, just off of Highland Avenue. Damion Horton was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under a $5,000 bond, while bond for Lovell and Michael Horton was set at $7,500. They were all scheduled to appear in District Court today (May 17) in Newton.
38-year-old Angel Dawn Powell of Mt. Herman Road in Hudson was arrested Tuesday (May 16) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine. Powell was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court date is set for Thursday (May 18).
Catawba County Manager Mick Berry presented his recommended Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget to the Catawba County Commissioners during their May 15 Board meeting.
The recommended budget, which maintains the current property tax rate of $0.575 per $100 of valuation, totals $259.2 million (a 1.9% increase from the current year, excluding debt for Catawba Valley Medical Center). Due to continued growth in retail sales, building permit activity and business investment, the budget projects growth in both property tax revenue and sales tax revenue. This growth in revenue allows for implementation of the Board of Commissioners’ strategic plan.
In his presentation Berry acknowledged the Commissioners’ leadership in undertaking a community-wide strategic planning process, noting their policy direction served as the foundation for his recommended budget. The budget details specific investments aimed at enhancing quality of life while maintaining the second lowest tax rate among neighboring area counties and sixth lowest of the state’s 27 urban counties.
The Commissioners will hold budget hearings for County departments and outside agencies Monday, May 22, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the 1924 Courthouse in Newton. These hearings are open to the public. On Thursday, June 1, the Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing to accept citizen comments regarding the recommended budget. This hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The full budget recommendation may be viewed online at www.catawbacountync.gov. The Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the budget adoption at their Monday, June 5 Board meeting, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the 1924 Courthouse in Newton.
The Iredell County Sheriff's Office conducted a roundup of drug suspects yesterday (Tuesday, May 16).
In the early morning hours Tuesday more than a dozen uniformed deputies and plain clothes detectives fanned out across Iredell County in an effort to serve felony drug warrants on 39 suspects.
This drug suspect round up named “Operation Zero Tolerance” is the culmination of several months of surveillance operations along with undercover investigations and purchases of illegal narcotics and prescription medication from these suspects by members of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Investigation Unit.
Several suspects were arrested Tuesday and others are still wanted by the Sheriff's Office. A majority of the 39 suspects are from Iredell County, some of those arrested or wanted are from surrounding counties.
During their Tuesday (May 16) meeting, Hickory City Council voted unanimously to appoint Jeff Cline as Mayor of the City of Hickory.
With Mayor Rudy Wright’s unexpected passing, City Council had to appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of the unexpired mayoral term, as detailed by North Carolina State Statute 160A-63.
Mayor Pro-Tempore Vernon Tarlton will continue all roles and responsibilities of the Office of Mayor until Cline is sworn in at the June 6 City Council meeting.
Cline, a Hickory native, is a Senior Vice-President for BB&T Insurance Services. With a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Business Administration from Wake Forest University, Cline joined the family business as a commercial insurance agent at Cline Southern Insurance agency, which later sold to BB&T.
An active community member, Cline served on the Hickory City Council from 1995 to 1999. He has also served as the President of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Economic Development Corporation, and Chairman of the Board for Catawba Memorial Hospital, which is now Catawba Valley Medical Center.
“This is a solemn and surreal time for our community and I want to reassure our citizens that the work of Mayor Wright goes forth and continues,” said Cline. “He was my friend and we worked closely together on the bond referendum. His vision for the city was thrilling and we will work to implement that vision.”
Cline and his wife, Joy, are members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, parents to three married daughters, and the proud grandparents of one baby granddaughter.
Bond has been increased for a teacher charged with sex offenses and records showed he was being held in jail. 28-year-old Jeb Stuart Bass of Conley Street in Newton was arrested Monday (May 15) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of statutory rape and sexual offense with a student.
According to a news release from the Catawba County School System, the system originally contracted with Bass to teach one social studies class for two hours a day from August 25, 2014, through January 27, 2015 at Fred T. Foard High School. On January 28, 2015, Bass was hired as a full-time social studies teacher at Fred T. Foard High School and has remained in that position until May 15, 2017. In addition to his teaching duties at Foard, Bass served as an assistant boys’ basketball coach and assistant football coach.
On Monday, the superintendent of Catawba County Schools, Dr. Matthew Stover, suspended Bass with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. The news release said as soon as possible, Dr. Stover was going to notify Bass, as required by N.C. state law, that he intends to recommend to the Catawba County Board of Education that Bass be dismissed and suspended. This would be without pay until such time as the board rules on Dr. Stover’s recommendation.
Bass was taken into custody at approximately 6 p.m. Monday. He was initially released after bond was set at $36,000. The Catawba County Detention Facility records show that Bass was in custody as of this afternoon (May 16) under $75,000 bond. He was scheduled to appear in District Court today. The investigation is continuing and the Sheriff's Office is working with the Catawba County Schools Administrative team in an effort to conclude the probe as quickly as possible.
A missing Lincoln County teenager who ran away from home on May 9 has been located and turned over to the Lincoln County Department of Social Services.
According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, 15-year-old Justin Ryan Shoemake of Vale was located at a Maiden residence and returned to Lincoln County where DSS took custody of the teen.
Shoemake was reported missing on May 9 after he told friends he was running away from home. He has been cleared from NCIC as missing.
Statesville Police are investigating a break-in and larceny at Michaels Gold Mine on North Center Street in Statesville. At about 1:50 Saturday morning (May 13), Officers responded to an alarm at the store. They found the front glass broken out and tire tracks in front of the window.
Video showed that the suspect drove a dark-colored passenger car, possibly a 2005-2008 Buick Lecerne, into the front glass. The suspect got out, ran in and grabbed jewelry from the display cases. The suspect was inside the store for less than a minute. He got back in the car and fled. Approximately $20,000 in merchandise was taken.
The suspect appeared to be a white male wearing a black & red jacket and a light-colored hat.
Anyone with information about the case should contact Statesville Police at 704-878-3406 or Iredell Crime Stoppers at 704-662-1340. Callers can remain anonymous.
A criminal indictment was recently unsealed in federal court, charging 53-year-old Robert M. Boston and 50-year-old Robert S. LaBarge, both of Hickory, with conspiracy relating to a fraud totaling at least $25 million, to include wire fraud, securities fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. The announcement was made earlier this month by Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
The indictment charges Boston and LaBarge each with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud; one count of wire fraud; one count of securities fraud; one count of bank fraud; and one count of money-laundering conspiracy. LaBarge is also charged with false writing in connection with an FBI investigation.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, Boston and LaBarge defrauded franchisees, investors, and lenders of their company, Zloop. The indictment alleges that, through their fraud, the defendants obtained millions of dollars, much of which was spent on expensive personal real estate, a private plane, and the racing career of Boston’s son.
The conspiracy charge and bank fraud charge each carry a maximum prison term of 30 years. The wire fraud charge and the securities fraud charge each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years. The maximum penalty for the money-laundering conspiracy charge is 10 years in prison, and the maximum prison term for false writing is five years in years in prison.
A Burke County woman will spend nearly six years in prison after pleading guilty to drug charges during Catawba County Superior Court on Monday (May 15).
45-year-old Kerri Elaine Giles was sentenced to an active prison term of 70 to 93 months by the Honorable W. Todd Pomeroy, Superior Court Judge from Lincoln County, following her plea to trafficking methamphetamine and the sale of methamphetamine. She will serve her prison sentence in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections. Judge Pomeroy also imposed a mandatory $50,000 fine as part of Giles’ judgment.
Undercover officers with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force arranged and made a purchase of methamphetamine from Giles on August 17, 2015. A day later, officers again made contact with Giles for another controlled substance purchase. After receiving payment, Giles went to her source’s location, picked up the methamphetamine and had a third person deliver it to officers.
The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force handled the investigation. Sean Baetjer prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.