A federal jury sitting in Statesville convicted 34-year-old Carlos Antonio Flores of Statesville of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, following a three-day trial.
According to filed court documents and evidence presented at trial, Flores was involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy that operated mainly in Iredell, Alexander, Caldwell, Catawba, and Ashe Counties. Trial evidence established that from at least as early as April 2015 through October 30, 2015, Flores and his co-conspirators distributed more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine, which has a street value of more than $1,500,000. According to trial evidence, law enforcement arrested Flores on October 30, 2015, when he and several coconspirators were caught distributing more than a kilogram of 96% pure crystal “ice” methamphetamine concealed in a cat litter box.
Flores has been in federal custody October 2015. At sentencing, Flores faces a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000,000. The case was investigated by HSI in Charlotte, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.
27-year-old Ethan Gilbert Fleenor of Plaza Street NW in Lenoir was arrested Sunday (March 12) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged on a bill of indictment with felony possession of methamphetamine. Fleenor was incarcerated in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $15,000 secured bond. No court date was listed.
44-year-old Ashlyn Culp Rebecca Lambert of Collettsville Road in Lenoir was arrested Sunday (March 12) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with possession of methamphetamine. Lambert was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $10,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, March 13).
37-year-old Kristen Nicole Reitzel of 17th Street NE in Hickory was arrested Saturday (March 11) by Hudson Police Officers. She's charged with felony counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place to keep controlled substance. Reitzel was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, March 13).
42-year-old Jerrie Whaley Pugh was arrested this morning (Monday, March 13) by authorities in Burke County. She's charged with felony non forced breaking and entering. Pugh was placed in jail in Morganton under $20,000 secured bond. A court date is set for April 17.
28-year-old Kendra Leigh McQuinn of Cross Street in Granite Falls was arrested Friday (March 10) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. McQuinn was confined in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, March 13).
29-year-old Russell Bruce Franklin of Helton Road in Granite Falls was arrested Friday (March 10) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, possession of a controlled substance in prison or jail, and possession of methamphetamine. Franklin is also charged with simple possession of schedule IV controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts of probation violation.
Franklin was locked up in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $82,500 secured bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, March 13).
27-year-old Zong Shia Yang of Highway 16 North in Conover was arrested Sunday (March 12) by Troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Yang is charged with possession of a stolen automobile. He was incarcerated in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $5,000 bond. A District Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, March 13).
34-year-old Joshua Joseph Ford of Deal Road in Claremont was arrested Saturday (March 11) by Troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. He's charged with possession of methamphetamine. Ford was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $3,000 bond. A Superior Court appearance was scheduled for today (Monday, March 13).
A man and woman were found dead in an apartment complex in the Catawba County town of Long View early this morning (Sunday, March 12). The Long View Police Department confirmed to WHKY that it is a case of murder-suicide. Officers responded to Hilltop Apartments on 18th St. Place NW and found 26-year-old Shanice Williams and 27-year-old Markise Lineberger deceased. There was a child in the home as well who was not injured. The child's name and age are not being released.
Officers responded to the call at approximately 1 a.m. after receiving calls regarding a shooting. The Long View Police Department spokesperson told WHKY that the an assault and shooting occurred, and it is under investigation as a murder-suicide. No other details were released.
The man wanted in connection with an apartment fire in Caldwell County turned himself in today (Friday, March 10). 33-year-old Timothy Allan Harmon turned himself into law enforcement officers in Burke County at approximately 4:35 p.m.
Harmon is the primary suspect in a fire on Oak Tree Lane in the Sawmills Community of Caldwell County Thursday (March 9). Warrants have been issued against Harmon for First Degree Arson and First Degree Kidnapping. The warrants were expected to be served Friday evening.
The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, along with Fire and Rescue Personnel from multiple agencies, responded to a reported Structure Fire at an apartment complex located on Oak Tree Lane around 6 a.m. Thursday. Once the fire was contained Fire Investigators were able to determine that the fire was a result of Arson.
Fire Investigators along with Detectives were able to determine circumstances connected to the intentionally set fire, including the fact that the apartment complex was occupied at the time fire was set. Harmon was identified as a suspect in the fire and the warrants for arrest were issued. A news release from officials in Caldwell County says Harmon reportedly fled the scene prior to the arrival of Law Enforcement to the scene of the fire.
The City of Hickory’s Street Department is preparing for possible winter weather this weekend. Snowplows and spreaders are being prepared. Crews are on stand-by if they are needed Saturday evening or Sunday morning (March 11 & 12). Snowplows will continually plow the streets for the duration of the storm, starting with the major streets. Residential streets will be cleared after major streets have been cleared.
In the event of a winter storm, the Solid Waste Department will collect garbage as weather and road conditions permit. Residents should place their rollouts to the curb on their normal day and leave it there until it can be collected.
For the latest updates and cancellations from the city, visit hickorync.gov/news-room, or follow the city on Facebook and Twitter.
30-year-old Demarco Lamont McDowell of Charlotte pleaded guilty to felony breaking and entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods, along with other related felonies, during Caldwell County Superior Court on Wednesday (March 8).
The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, sentenced McDowell to an active prison term of three to six years in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.
Officers with Hickory Police Department responded to Precision Sports, LLC in southern Caldwell County around 4 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2015, for a security alarm check. Surveillance videos from the business showed a break-in at the business with numerous guns stolen.
A tip from Charlotte led to an examination of cellular communications between Johnson and two other individuals by HPD Forensic Analyst Matt Rogers. Rogers’ analysis led to the recovery of some of the guns, identified by the business owners as those stolen.
Specifically, a photo showing guns on a bed was traced back to McDowell’s phone. Investigators seized bedding from the bedroom of the defendant that matched the bedding in the photo, and owners of Precision Sports identified some of the guns as those stolen during the break-in.
Jeff Pruett and John Patterson led the investigation for Hickory Police Department with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nancy Lee prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.
41-year-old Debra Ann Matney of Lincolncon was given an active prison sentence of five to seven years after pleading guilty to first-degree burglary, felony conspiracy, second-degree kidnapping and common law robbery during Catawba County Superior Court on Thursday (March 9).
The Honorable Jeffrey P. Hunt, Superior Court Judge from Transylvania County, imposed Matney’s sentence, which will be served in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections, following her guilty plea.
Matney and four other individuals were involved in a home invasion, robbery and kidnapping of her then 18-year-old daughter on Aug. 19, 2015. They covered the girl’s face, took her from the home and drove her to multiple locations, using her debit card to withdraw funds.
The victim identified her mother’s voice during the kidnapping. Video surveillance from a store helped identify two of the co-defendants, and a third person identified helped investigators develop the other two suspects, including Matney, who made a statement that she was trying to teach her daughter a lesson.
One of the co-defendants already has pleaded guilty and is serving a prison sentence. The other three have pending court dates on charges related to the offenses. Russ Boger investigated the case for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Lance Sigmon handled prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office.
31-year-old Jerry Antwon Young of 1st Street S.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at 2:15 Wednesday afternoon (March 8) on one felony count of failure to appear. He was served a bill of indictment for the sale of cocaine and possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine. Young was also charged with a felony probation violation. In addition, the Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office has charged Young with non-support.
He was taken into custody at a residence on 10th Avenue S.W. in Hickory. Young was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $50,000, secured, plus a $2,715 bond on the non-support charge. He has court dates on March 20 and May 15.
A Hickory man will be in prison for at least seven years following his guilty plea to two counts of larceny from the person and his admission to habitual felon status during Catawba County Superior Court on Wednesday (March 8).
57-year-old Ronnie Darnell Smith was sentenced to an active prison term of seven to ten years in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections by the Honorable Jeffrey P. Hunt, Superior Court Judge from Transylvania County.
Smith’s prison sentence was enhanced by prior felony convictions for larceny after breaking and entering in Mecklenburg County (August 2004), attempted felonious larceny in Nash County (September 2008) and attempted felonious larceny in Durham County (April 2012).
The defendant took property from the Cubbard Express in Hickory without paying for it on Sept. 22, 2016, and did the same at CVS Pharmacy in Hickory the following day. Video surveillance from both businesses helped investigators from Hickory Police Department determine it was the same person who committed the offenses. A neighborhood canvass for the suspect led investigators to Smith as a suspect, and he later confessed to the crimes.
Justin Levey led the investigation for Hickory Police Department, and Kyle Smith prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s Office.
33-year-old Michael Eugene Grutizus, whose address is listed as the Budget Inn in Hickory, was arrested by Hickory Police shortly before noon yesterday on two felony counts of breaking & entering and two misdemeanor counts of larceny after breaking & entering.
He was arrested in connection to two incidents that were reported on March 8. Officers responded to a vehicle break-in on 14th Avenue N.E. in Hickory. A female victim reported the theft of a purse, which included two debit cards. Investigators learned that the suspect attempted to use the debit cards.
On the same date, another victim reported the theft of a purse, including a wallet with credit cards. That incident occurred at King Hickory Furniture.
Yesterday (March 9), Officers located the suspect, Michael Grutizus, at the Raceway convenience store on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard. He was taken into custoday without incident and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility under a $15,000 secured bond. A first appearance in District Court was set for today in Newton.
51-year-old Jimmy Cola Ayers of Riverfield Road in Statesville has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on assault with a deadly weapon, communicating threats, injury to personal property and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Events leading to his arrest began as Detective Sgt. Katie Harwell followed up on a domestic assault incident involving the suspect, Jimmy Ayers, and his wife. In the course of the investigation, Detectives learned that Ayers approached a subject in a vehicle and presented himself as a law enforcement officer. The incident took place on Stan Lane in Statesville on February 27.
At that time, Ayers, who was armed with a Bowie knife, claimed he was looking for a female and needed to search the victim’s car. Ayers told the victim that the Sheriff’s Office had offered a reward for the woman. The victim allowed Ayers to search the vehicle. When he didn’t find the woman, Ayers became upset and began to stab and damage the victim’s property in the vehicle.
The victim asked for Ayers’ I.D. and told him to stop. While continuing to hold the knife, Ayers threatened the victim and said he didn’t have to show anything. The victim was able to get back in the vehicle and leave the area.
Ayers was arrested and given a $4,000 secured bond. He was also served a warrant for assault on a female as the result of a March 1 altercation between Ayers and his wife. An appearance in District Court was scheduled for April 3.
The man charged with making hundreds of bomb threats to locations in Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties appeared in court today in Catawba County. 27-year-old Cody Matthew Startt of Matoaka, West Virginia did not receive any additional time for the charges in Catawba County. He was sentenced to 11-21 years in prison following his appearance in Burke County. Startt still has a court appearance scheduled in Caldwell County, which was set for today but could change.
The District Attorney's Office has issued a statement regarding the investigation into two Assistant DA's involvement in a church facing abuse allegations.
The statement from District Attorney David Learnerreads as follows: "Assistant District Attorney Frank Webster and Assistant District Attorney Chris Back are no longer employed by the 25th Judicial District. Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon will be the Chief ADA in Burke County, and Kyle Smith will be the Chief ADA in Catawba County. I along with my staff, have worked very hard in the past two years to rebuild the reputation of the DA's Office, and I cannot allow the integrity of the office to be called into question. My administration is dedicated to the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice for the citizens of Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba Counties."
An Associated Press Article says at least a half-dozen times over a period of twenty years, authorities investigated reports that members of the Word of Faith Church were being beaten. The report says according to former congregants, the orders came down from church leaders to lie to protect the sect. According to the AP report, Frank Webster and Chris Back, assistant District Attorneys in the 25th District were ministers with the church. They allegedly provided legal advice, helped at strategy sessions and participated in a mock trial for four congregants charged with harassing a former member.