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A Burke County man who authorities say used a toy gun has been charged in connection with the robbery of a Morganton convenience store earlier this month.

25-year-old Ethan Daniel McLean of Cook Road in Valdese, was arrested Thursday (May 14) and charged with felony common law robbery, according to the Morganton Department of Public Safety. Police stopped a vehicle on Interstate 40 and found evidence of the robbery, which occurred May 1 at Exxon on Bethel Road in Morganton.

According to police reports, the owner of the Exxon told authorities McLean threatened the owner and stole $1,000. Police reports also say the robber used a toy gun that had been altered to look like a real one. Though the victim reported the crime as armed robbery, investigators charged McClean with common law robbery after discovering the weapon was a toy. There were no injuries in the incident.

Based on the evidence found in the vehicle, in addition to statements from vehicle occupants, McLean was arrested. The Morganton Department of Public Safety says they will be submitting evidence for a grand jury to the district attorney's office, then they can determine if the charge will remain common law robbery or be upgraded to armed robbery.

McLean is being held at the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility under $50,000 secured bond. He's scheduled to appear in District Court June 3.

29-year-old Randal Scott Jordan, Jr. of 12th Street Court S.E. and 30-year-old Katie Rose Williams 3rd Avenue S.W., both from Conover, were arrested yesterday (May 14) by Caldwell Co. Sheriff’s Officers. They were each charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jordan and Williams were taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center where they were each given a $25,000 secured bond. First appearances in District Court were set for May 18 in Lenoir.

54-year-old Ronald Earl Curtis of Dry Ponds Road in Hudson, 36-year-old Michael Paul Desaint-Hippolyte of Holly Court in Lenoir, 42-year-old Jerry Eugene Fair of Kaylor Driver in Granite Falls and 30-year-old Megan Leeann Ruppert of Farmer Lane in Lenoir were all arrested by Lenoir Police yesterday (May 14). They were each charged with felony conspiracy to sell or deliver heroin. Desaint-Hippolyte was also charged with a misdemeanor probation violation.

All four suspects were taken to the Caldwell Co. Detention Center with bond for each set at $100,000, secured, plus an additional $400 cash bond for Desaint-Hippolyte. First appearances in District Court were scheduled yesterday in Lenoir.

A McDowell County man is charged with assaulting a man with a tire iron in Burke County. According to the Burke County Sheriff's Office, 30-year-old Charles Young of Green Street Loop in Marion is charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Deputies with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office responded to Watts Street off U.S. Highway 70 on May 6 regarding an assault, When deputies arrived, the victim had left the scene. Charles Young told officers that he had used a tire iron to defend himself in a fight with a man he didn’t know. Deputies couldn’t locate the other man, and cleared the scene.

On May 7, officers responded to Carolinas Medical Center in Valdese and spoke with Thomas Carlson, who told them he had been working on a scooter at a friend’s house when the assault occurred. According to the Sheriff's Office, Carlson said, after leaving a residence on Watts Street with his girlfriend and 14-month-old daughter, Carlson reached the end of Watts Street and Highway 70 where the road was blocked by a vehicle.

Carlson confronted the man in the vehicle and the two fought, according to the release. Carlson was struck in the head with a tire iron.

Shortly after arriving at CMC in Valdese, Carlson was transported to CMC in Charlotte with serious head trauma. After deputies spoke with Carlson at the hospital, they were unable to find Young to ask him more questions. He was apprehended Wednesday (May 13) by officers with the Drexel Police Department, during a traffic stop. Police reportedly found the tire tool used in the assault inside Young’s vehicle.

As of Thursday, Carlson remained hospitalized and in stable condition. Young was placed in jail under a $50,000 secured bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 3 in District Court.

33-year-old Viviana Barbara Eller of 17th Street S.E. in Hickory was arrested at about 11:20 last night (May 14) on one felony count of possession of heroin.

The charge comes in connection to an incident in December of last year in which Hickory Police responded to a shoplifting call at a local Family Dollar store. Store surveillance led to the issuance of a warrant for Eller’s arrest on a shoplifting charge.

As she was taken into custody, but before she was taken to H.P.D. for processing, Eller insisted on bringing her purse. While at Police headquarters, heroin was found in Eller’s purse. She was initially indicted for that offense on March 20.

Following yesterday’s arrest, Eller was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $10,000, secured. She has since been released. An appearance in District Court was scheduled for today in Newton.

There will be a Special Meeting of the City-walk Subcommittee of the City of Hickory's Bond Implementation Commission on Tuesday, May 19, at 5:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Highland Recreation Center at Stanford Park Community Room, 1451 8th Street Drive NE, Hickory.

The purpose of this Special Meeting is to discuss an overview of the project, a bus tour of the City Walk Corridor, review of maps, and discussion with subcommittee members for ideas, suggestions, etc., related to the project and other related items, and establish the next meeting date for the Subcommittee meeting.

21-year-old Kyle Aaron Hollifield of Plywood Sales Drive in Marion was arrested by McDowell County Sheriff's Officers in connection with the theft of a vehicle from a Burke County resident. Hollifield is charged with felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

According to a news release from the McDowell County Sheriff's Office, shortly before 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28, residents on Jupiter Lane/Big Sky Drive in Marion reported that there was a suspicious truck stuck off the side of the road.

The 1988 Nissan, worth $2,000, had been reported stolen by Cheryl Brock Teague, in Burke County, on April 22. According to the news release, witnesses saw Hollifield return to the scene and try to get the pickup out. Authorities recovered the Nissan truck. When arrested, Hollifield was on probation for a prior larceny of motor vehicle conviction. Hollifeld is scheduled to appear in District Court May 20.

We have more information on an arrest we reported earlier this week on WHKY. 33-year-old Justin Mikeal Freeman and 52-year-old John Michael Wall were both arrested after the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Interdiction Unit conducted a traffic stop. The traffic stop was conducted Wednesday on U.S. 321 Northbound just south of Startown Road at mile marker 32 for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop deputies spotted drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle.

A probable cause search of the vehicle was conducted by the deputies which resulted in the seizure of in excess of 15 grams of heroin which exceeds the trafficking amount. After the seizure, the Interdiction Unit contacted the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force and Hickory Police Department for assistance. Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were also present and assisted with the case. Also seized during the traffic stop was a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.

Freeman and Wall were both arrested and taken to the Catawba County Detention Facility where Freeman was placed under $100,000 secured bond after being charged with felony possession of heroin and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Wall was placed under $10,000 secured bond after being charged with with felony possession of heroin. Additional charges were pending against Wall.

The investigation is continuing and more arrests were expected.

Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman and his deputies are looking for a man and a woman whom they believe have scammed local residents out of approximately $100,000. On Tuesday (May 12), one scam victim informed bowman that he had been called by a man claiming to be selling bath tubs. The man set up an appointment with the victim and made a sales presentation. The resident paid a large down payment on a bathtub; however; the scam artist never returned and the tub was never delivered. The suspect was identified as Donald Gilliam and two charges of obtaining property by false pretense are pending.

In another case, dating back to 2010, Bowman said a female real estate agent by the name of Lucine Collins approached an elderly lady in Alexander County. Collins offered to help the lady sell her home because the homeowner was going to stay elsewhere, due to a health condition. Collins offered to pay rent and utilities in exchange for the privilege of staying in the victim’s home and showing the home to potential buyers, with utilities being kept in the homeowner’s name. However, the victim learned that Collins was neither keeping up utility payments nor paying rent. The homeowner’s accounts were falling behind. Collins introduced the homeowner to Gilliam, whom she described as a loan broker to help out in the situation. Together, Gilliam and Collins scammed more funds from the homeowner.

In a third case, Bowman said Collins learned of a home for sale in the Wittenburg Community. Using her real estate agent experience, she obtained a key code for the lockbox in order to access the vacant home. She found a potential buyer and introduced him to Gilliam, who showed the victim the house. The victim paid thousands of dollars in a down payment on the home to Gilliam. Also, the victim opened a credit card account and allowed Gilliam to use it, on the pretense that it was for funding repairs for the home he had made a down payment on. Gilliam, who is 59-years-old was arrested, charged with obtaining property by false pretense, and given a $1,000 bond. The case is pending in court. Gilliam has been convicted on similar charges and is on probation for such crimes in Catawba, Gaston, Wilkes, Moore, and Cleveland counties. He missed a court date last week, said Bowman.

Lucine Collins, who is 67-years-old, has never been arrested, but has outstanding warrants on obtaining property by false pretense. Anyone having information on these suspects should call the Sheriff’s Office at 828-632-1111 or Alexander County Crime stoppers at 828-632-8555. Sheriff Bowman also urges the public to use caution regarding salespeople and to make sure that a permit is presented before discussing any items for sale.

The District Attorney’s Office in Caldwell County will offer its residents an easier way to handle traffic citations.

Beginning July 10, 2015, Traffic Court will be offered in Caldwell by the DA’s Office, joining Burke and Catawba counties in providing such a service to residents.

The new Traffic Court is intended to relieve over-burdened District Court Criminal dockets and ensure that law enforcement officers are allowed more time to perform their patrol duties.

“Burke and Catawba have had infractions court for several years, and it works very well,” District Attorney David Learner said. “It accomplishes a couple of things. First, it takes minor traffic offenses out of District Court and gives more time for the disposition of more serious matters. It also gives the public a very easy way to come in and quickly get some help on minor traffic offenses they can take care of themselves.”

Officers will set the following infractions on the Traffic Court calendar:

·          speeding tickets 20 mph or less (over the speed limit), not related to other misdemeanors or felonies;

·          inspection violations, not related to other misdemeanors or felonies;

·          registration violations, not related to other misdemeanors or felonies; and

·         any traffic infractions not related to other misdemeanors or felonies.

Infractions related to misdemeanors or felonies, and any complicated or difficult matters brought to the attention of the assistant district attorney will be scheduled for an officer’s normal court date. Officers will not be in Traffic Court. The session will be handled by Assistant District Attorneys and assistant clerks of court.

“This will be a really good forum for people who want to represent themselves, and they can expect things to go quickly so they don’t have to sit in court all day,” Learner said.

Traffic Court will take place the second Friday of each month from 9 a.m. until noon in courtroom No. 1 at the Caldwell County Courthouse.