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45-year-old Michael Wilson Lesswing of Shady Bark Trail in Catawba, South Carolina, 46-year-old Tadesse Zewdie Sullivan of Peachtree Road in Charlotte and 55-year-old Donald Joseph Klausing of North Bend, Washington (who is staying temporarily in Charlotte on a business assignment) have all been arrested by Lincolnton Police and charged with felony solicitation of a child by a computer to conduct a sex act and appearing at the meeting place. Sullivan was also charged with simple possession of marijuana.

During the last week of February and the first week of March, Lincolnton Police conducted a sting operation targeting child predators soliciting children by a computer through various social media websites. A similar operation last year led to the arrest of nearly 20 child predators. The majority of those offenders were convicted in court. This year’s operation was spearheaded by Officers with the Criminal Investigations and Narcotics divisions, with assistance from the Patrol Division.

The offenders are from various and diverse backgrounds. Lesswing is a long distance truck driver; Sullivan is a restaurant manager; and Klausing is an engineering manager for a firm based out of Charlotte. None of the three have extensive criminal histories. Lesswing and Sullivan both have prior convictions for D.W.I. Lesswing has also been convicted of disorderly conduct. Klausing has no criminal history.

In each case, the offenders agreed to meet an Undercover Officer posing as either an underaged girl or boy from Lincolnton in order to engage in sexual activity. Additionally, some of the offenders brought alcohol and controlled substances with them to meet with what they believed to be underaged children. Lesswing and Sullivan were arrested on February 29 and Klausing was taken into custody on March 3.

Following their arrests, Lesswing and Sullivan were both placed in the Lincoln County Jail with bond for each set at $75,000, secured. Klausing was given a $100,000 secured bond. Sullivan and Klausing both posted bond and are currently out of jail. Lesswing and Sullivan were scheduled to make first appearances in Lincoln County District Court on March 1 with their next court dates coming up on March 15. Klausing was in court on March 4 with another appearance scheduled for April 12.

If the offenders are convicted with no aggravating factors, they could receive up to 31 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections and could be required to register as sex offenders.

A woman was killed and there were several others injured in an accident early this morning (Tuesday, March 8) in Lincoln County. According to published reports, the head-on crash occurred just before 8 a.m. on Highway 150 East at Old Mill Road.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says a van and truck collided. There were two children in the van. Troopers say that the truck crossed the center line, side-swiped another truck, then hit the van head-on.

The woman driving the van was killed. Two other adults and two children were all brought to the hospital with minor injuries. Highway 150 was closed until approximately 10 a.m. No names have been released.

Habitual felon status enhanced the active prison sentence given to a Lenoir woman who entered guilty pleas in Caldwell County Superior Court last week.

34-year-old Lisa Marie Harmon pleaded guilty last Monday (February 29) to possession of a firearm by felon, possession of stolen goods and obtaining property by false pretense, and was sentenced to a prison term of five to seven years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County.

Harmon was found to be in possession of stolen jewelry from the Blowing Rock area that she attempted to sell at pawn shops in Lenoir in November 2015, and she also had pawned stolen jewelry at one of the shops in May 2015.

Officers from Lenoir Police Department and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Harmon at a convenience store on Blowing Rock Boulevard in Lenoir in September 2015 when a handgun was located in plain view inside her vehicle.

Harmon has prior felony convictions for possession of firearm by felon in Burke (November 2012), common law robbery in Caldwell (July 2010) and larceny in Burke (September 2008).

The cases were investigated by Aaron Miller of Blowing Rock Police Department, Mark Barlowe and Brandon Thomas of Lenoir Police Department. Jennifer Mathews and Nancy Lee handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.

20-year-old Jamie Virgil Hicks of Hickory, pleaded guilty to robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury during Caldwell County Superior Court last Monday (February 29).

The Honorable Robert C. Ervin, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, sentenced Hicks to an active prison term of five to seven years in custody of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.

The victim in the assault and robbery, which occurred in April 2015, was taken to a pharmacy in Hickory to pick up a prescription by Hicks and Katie Dawn Sessoms. Instead of returning her to her home they took her to a residence on Peachtree Lane in the Granite Falls area of Caldwell County that she did not recognize.

Hicks tased the victim, pulled her out of the car and threw her to the ground before hitting her in the face with a handgun. He and Sessoms then began stomping on the victim. They took her purse and left her lying in the driveway. She suffered multiple broken bones from the attack.

Sessoms is due in court in Caldwell County on the same charges on April 4, 2016.

Cory Huffstetler investigated the case for the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, and Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jennings prosecuted for the State.

48-year-old Carl David Everhart of Everhart Court in Lenoir was arrested Monday (March 7) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering and larceny. Everhart was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $1,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Tuesday, March 8).

23-year-old Shawn Forrest Thornburg of Turner Road in Granite Falls was arrested Monday (March 7) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering, larceny, and larceny after breaking and entering. In addition, Thornburg is charged with eight misdemeanor counts apiece of larceny and possession of stolen goods or property. He was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is scheduled for March 22.

36-year-old Oryan Arnold Robinson of Starcross Road in Lenoir was arrested Monday (March 7) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of forgery of an instrument and conspiracy. In addition, Robinson is charged with failure to appear on a count of driving while license revoked. Robinson was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $31,000 secured bond. No court date is listed.

A suspect on the Burke County Sheriff's Office Most Wanted List has been arrested, and several are still being sought by authorities.

Last week, 39-year-old Clinton Russ Burton of Bryant Road in Morganton was arrested by authorities in Burke County. He was wanted on felony counts of trafficking opium or heroin and trafficking opium or heroin by transport. Burton was being held in jail in Morganton under $30,000 secured bond, a court date is set for March 28.

Among the suspects still being sought by authorities in Burke County is 32-year-old Brandon Lee Woody. He's wanted on felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense, breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, and possession of stolen property. Woody's last address is not known.

You can see the entire list of most wanted suspects at the Burke County Sheriff’s Office website, www.burkesheriff.org. If you have any information about any of the suspects being sought in Burke County call the Sheriff’s Office at 828-438-5500 or e-mail admin@burkesheriff.org. To make an anonymous tip you can contact Morganton-Burke Crimestoppers.

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners met in regular session Monday (March 7).

The Board held a public hearing to receive citizen comments and approved an application to rezone approximately 3.87 acres on Charlotte Street in Conover in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District from PD Planned Development to R-20 Residential District. Predominant uses in this district include multifamily residential, large scale non-residential, high density subdivisions, and mixed use housing types. The rezoned property is vacant.

The Board held a public hearing to receive citizen comments and approved an application to rezone two parcels totaling 3.55 acres at 3040 and 3062 Keller Street in the St. Stephens/Oxford Small Area Planning District from R-30 Residential to General Industrial (GI) district. The GI district provides for intensive manufacturing, processing, and assembly uses. No one spoke during the public hearing.

The Board adopted the Western Piedmont Bicycle Plan. The Western Piedmont Council of Governments received a planning grant in 2013 from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to prepare a regional bike plan for the four-county region of Catawba, Alexander, Burke, and Caldwell Counties. The purpose of the bicycle plan is to offer a framework for development of bike facilities, programs and policies that will support safe and efficient bicycling within the region.

The Board authorized the County Manager to work with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to accomplish the installation of approximately 350 feet of steel encasement pipes and approximately 5,000 linear feet of dry sewer line as part of NCDOT’s project for the widening of NC Highway 16, and included the funding for this project in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016/2017 County Budget.

34-year-old Timothy Ernest Green of South Fork Street in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 3:25 Saturday afternoon (March 5) on one felony count of habitual misdemeanor assault. He also faces single misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a female and communicating threats. In addition, he was served with an outstanding warrant dated January 13, 2016 for misdemeanor failure to appear.

He was arrested as the result of a domestic assault at the Gateway Extended Stay on Highway 70 S.W. in Hickory. A female victim was reportedly assaulted by her ex-boyfriend, Timothy Green. Another male attempted to break-up the fight, injuring Green in the process.

The female victim was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Green was taken to Frye Regional Medical Center.

The man who intervened did not suffer any serious injuries and was not charged.

Following his arrest, Green was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility where he was held without bond. Bond on the assault with a deadly weapon and failure to appear charges was set at $25,000, secured. District Court appearances were scheduled for today and for March 28.