What began as an investigation into a Nebo man’s drug activity has led local, regional, state and federal authorities to dozens of suspects in a narcotics conspiracy that spans from McDowell County to California.
The investigation began in July of 2016 with a probe of activity at the residence of 36-year-old Jamie Leonard Tate on Stacy Farm Road. Investigators learned that Tate and 35-year-old Dwayne Bullock of Newton conspired with numerous subjects to traffic and distribute hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as lesser amounts of cocaine and heroin.
On Tuesday (April 18), authorities began rounding up suspects, simultaneously raiding areas in McDowell, Burke and Catawba counties that authorities believe were used for the storage and distribution of narcotics. Seized during the raids were approximately 20 pounds of meth, an estimated $500,000 in cash, more than half a pound of marijuana, up to four ounces of fentanyl and other small amounts of pills, as well as firearms, cell phones and vehicles.
Those arrested Tuesday include:
36-year-old Jamie Leonard Tate of Stacy Farm Road in Nebo. He’s charged with six counts of trafficking in meth, three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count each of conspiracy to manufacture a schedule II controlled substance and continuing a criminal enterprise. He is in the McDowell County jail under a $5-million bond.
37-year-old Leah Patience Davis of Stacy Farm Road in Nebo. Davis was charged with six counts of trafficking meth, three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count of aiding & abetting a continuing a criminal enterprise. She is in the McDowell County jail under a $1-million bond.
25-year-old Gregory Adonis Rutherford of Shade Valley Drive and Ed Bowman Street, both in Morganton, was arrested on three counts each of trafficking meth and conspiracy to traffic meth and one count each of conspiracy to manufacture a schedule II controlled substance and aiding and abetting continuing a criminal enterprise. He is in the McDowell County jail under a $1-million bond.
49-year-old Randy “Big Country” Scott of U.S. Highway 70 West in Marion. He was charged with six counts of trafficking meth, three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count each of conspiracy to manufacture a schedule II controlled substance and aiding & abetting continuing a criminal enterprise. He is in the McDowell County jail under a $1-million bond.
45-year-old Aretha Gilley Fullwood of Snow Hill Church Road in Morganton was charged with three counts each of conspiracy to traffic meth and conspiracy to traffic heroin and one count each of trafficking meth and aiding & abetting continuing a criminal enterprise. She is in the McDowell County jail under a $500,000 bond.
55-year-old Aretha Faye Giles of 17th Street West in Newton. She faces three counts each of conspiracy to traffic meth and conspiracy to traffic heroin and one count of aiding & abetting a continuing a criminal enterprise. She is in the McDowell County jail under a $500,000 bond.
28-year-old Karita Shanece “China” Bullock of Shangri La Drive in Conover was charged with six counts of trafficking meth, three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count of aiding & abetting continuing a criminal enterprise. She is in the McDowell County jail under a $1-million bond.
Three suspects with warrants remain at large. They are:
35-year-old Dwayne Bullock of 17th Street West in Newton is wanted on six counts of conspiracy to traffic heroin, three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count of continuing a criminal enterprise.
37-year-old Marqueseo Marshay “Pepe” Pearson of Stephens Drive in Morganton is wanted on three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count each of conspiracy to manufacture a schedule II controlled substance and aiding & abetting a continuing a criminal enterprise.
66-year-old William Jackie Pearson of Stephens Drive in Morganton is wanted on three counts of conspiracy to traffic meth and one count each of conspiracy to manufacture a schedule II controlled substance and aiding & abetting a continuing a criminal enterprise.
Additional arrests and charges are pending.
The drug conspiracy investigation was a nine-month joint, multi-jurisdictional effort involving the McDowell Co. Sheriff’s Office; the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation; the Marion Police Department; the McDowell Co. District Attorney’s Office; the Burke Co. Sheriff’s Office; the Morganton Department of Public Safety; the Newton Police Department; the N.C. State Highway Patrol; the U.S. Postal Service; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Attorney’s Office; and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. Also providing aid at the scenes Tuesday were McDowell Co. Emergency Management, McDowell County E.M.S., the Nebo Fire Department, the N.C. Department of Revenue and N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Dwayne Bullock, Marqueseo Pearson or Jackie Pearson should call the McDowell Co. Sheriff’s Office at 828-652-2235, McDowell County Communications at 828-652-4000 or McDowell County Crime Stoppers at 828-65-CRIME (828-652-7463). Information may also be sent to Crime Stoppers via text message. Text MCDOWELLTIPS and the information to 274637 (CRIMES). Persons providing information to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
The annual Foothills Veterans Stand Down is scheduled for this Friday in Hickory. The event has been moved, in the past it was held at the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds, this year it will be at CVCC.
The event is being held to assist veterans in the foothills and across western North Carolina. Services available for veterans will include medical and dental care, food, clothing, education, tax assistance, employment counseling, eye care, haircuts, shoes, community resources, outdoor supplies, pastoral counseling, and fellowship.
The 2017 Foothills Veterans Stand Down will be going on from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Catawba Valley Community College's Tarlton Complex. For more information go to the website www.foothillsstanddown.com.
52-year-old Jeffery Wayne Randolph of Walters Mobile Home Park Drive in Hudson was arrested Tuesday (April 18) by Troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. He's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. Randolph was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $5,000 secured bond. A District Court date is set for tomorrow (Thursday, April 20).
21-year-old Wesley Thomas Johnson and 26-year-old Tanner Parks McAlpin, both of Taylorsville, were both arrested Monday (April 17) by Alexander County Sheriff's Officers. They're each charged with felony possession of methamphetamine. The two men were arrested following a traffic stop. Bond for both suspects was set at $5,000 secured. They're both scheduled to appear in District Court May 1.
A man and his son have been arrested in connection with a northern Lincoln County home invasion.
43-year-old Esteban Aguirre Martinez and 18-year-old Joshua Steven Granados, both of the same Herter Road, Lincolnton address, were arrested Tuesday (April 18) by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers. They were both charged with one felony count apiece of first degree burglary and larceny after breaking and entering. Both suspects were also charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault.
Jared Miller, who lives in the 4400 block of Herter Road in Lincolnton, told deputies two Hispanic males broke into his home around 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday while he was asleep, and assaulted him. The victim told officers the suspects were his neighbors. He said one of the suspects was armed with a stick and the other person was armed with a knife. Miller was assaulted with the stick and threatened with the knife before the suspects left the residence.
Miller told officers the men picked up approximately $100 in U S currency from the kitchen table as they left. EMS was dispatched to the scene but the victim refused transport to the hospital.
Following their arrests, both suspects were jailed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center. Bond for Martinez was set at $35,000 secured. Granados was locked up under $30,000 secured bond. They're both scheduled to appear in District Court today (Wednesday, April 19).
Hickory City Council met in regular session last night.
Minutes, second readings, and consent agenda approved unanimously. Among the items listed under reaffirmation and ratification of second readings was the approval and acceptance of the North Carolina Department of Transportation Project Agreement for the Pedestrian Signal Upgrade in the amount of $402,500.
The consent agenda included the acceptance of a grant award from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Division of Aviation, in the amount of $225,000. The funds are for the development or update of an Airport Layout Plan/Master Plan and for preliminary engineering for the extension of Runway 624 at Hickory Regional Airport.
Kevin Greer presented a request to accept bid & award contract to Eastern Structures for construction of Falling Creek Rd bridge replacement. The contract amount is one-million, 258-thousand, 867 dollars 94 cents. The acceptance of bids and the awarding of the contract passed unanimously.
City Planner, Cal Overby presented a proposal for a voluntary non-contiguous annexation of 427 25th Ave NW. Following a public hearing during which nobody spoke, the annexation passed unanimously.
Warren Wood was sworn in as City Manager. (He was legally sworn in last week, since his first day was April 10.) Later in the meeting City Manager Wood said that he looks forward to working with Council, staff, and citizens and is glad to be home.
A citizen spoke of the historic significance of the seats in the Hickory Community Theatre, where African Americans were once forced to sit. 3 additional citizens spoke on the same topic, encouraging Council to recognize the balcony as a historic site. Mayor Wright asked staff to look into what course of action should be taken regarding their request of preserving the theatre's balcony.
23-year-old Dustin Scott Goode of Delview Road in Cherryville has been arrested by Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Officers on one felony count each of first-degree burglary, possession of stolen goods, larceny and breaking & entering.
On March 12, an 86-year-old man from Vale told Deputies he was awakened by the sound of movement in his basement. He looked out a window and saw flashlights followed by the sound of a vehicle leaving his driveway. The victim called 9-1-1 and a Deputy was dispatched to his residence. The Deputy found that the victim’s home and an outbuilding had been burglarized.
Stolen in the break-in were several antiques including pottery, oil lanterns, glass motor oil containers and milk jars, along with other items the victim had saved over his lifetime. Detective Dan Snellings contacted local antique dealers. With their assistance, Dustin Scott Goode was developed as a suspect. Two of the stolen items were found at a Gastonia antique store. Goode sold the items to the store the day after the break-in.
Goode was arrested by Cherryville Police on April 15 and turned over to authorities in Lincoln County. The suspect was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $35,000 secured bond.
Several of the stolen items have not been recovered. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of those items should contact the Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Office at 704-732-9050, Lincolnton/Lincoln County Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909 or Detective Snellings at 704-276-9186.
The Catawba County Social Services Board has named Karen Harrington Director of Catawba County Social Services. Harrington, who joined Social Services as Assistant Director in 2013, has been serving as Interim Director of the agency since January 10, 2017.
Harrington will be responsible for Social Services’ administrative and managerial operations, which includes oversight of the department’s budget and multi-faceted range of public assistance and prevention programs, group homes, and service agencies such as the Children’s Advocacy Center and Family NET. Harrington must also ensure program delivery is in compliance with local, state and federal guidelines.
In addition to managing existing programs, Harrington is expected to continually assess community needs and work within Social Services and in collaboration with public and private partners to meet those needs. This may include expanding programs, developing new initiatives or identifying resources, all of which is done in advisement with the Social Services Board of Directors.
Harrington’s previous responsibilities as Assistant Director involved overseeing the department’s extensive child welfare programs and prevention programming. She also supervised the Executive Director of the Child Advocacy and Protection Center and served as the Social Services liaison to the organization’s Board.
Harrington received a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Minot State University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the social services field as a social services caseworker, clinician, program supervisor, and administrator to her new role.
Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Officers have arrested three people on drug charges. A fourth suspect has been charged, but not arrested.
33-year-old Jonathan Lawrence Cline of Peeler Road in Vale was charged with one felony count each of trafficking in cocaine, possession of a schedule I controlled substance, trafficking in methamphetamine, maintaining a residence for a controlled substance and fraud by identity theft, plus one misdemeanor count of failure to appear. 30-year-old Holly Lynn Pope of Shepherd Court in Taylorsville and 33-year-old Shasta Marie Oxendine of Atlantic Lane in Lincolnton were each charged with felony possession of a schedule II controlled substance. 39-year-old Jennifer Marie Sronce of Reeps Grove Church Road in Vale faces one count of felony possession of methamphetamine. The warrants on Sronce have not been served. All four suspects were charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. In addition, Cline and Oxendine were each charged with non-support.
On April 14, a call about a suspicious person on the 8000 block of Reep’s Grove Church Road led Deputies to a residence on Peeler Road where illegal drugs were being used. The subject had been carrying several camouflage bags that were left lying on the ground. The reporting party said the man appeared to be impaired. Officers were unable to locate him.
Deputies then went to several homes on Peeler Road before arriving at a residence where they saw, through an open door, several subjects sitting in the living room. They saw a female with a lighter in one hand and holding a glass pipe in her mouth with the other hand. She immediately put the pipe down and blew out smoke.
The owner gave Deputies consent to search the residence where they located various types of illegal drugs, including cocaine and liquid methamphetamine. They also seized drug paraphernalia, including used and unused hypodermic needles, glass pipes and digital scales. A search warrant was obtained and Sheriff’s Narcotics Investigators were called to the scene to continue the search.
Following the arrests, Cline was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $127,700 secured bond. Pope’s bond was set at $10,000, secured, and Oxendine was given a $5,750 secured bond. They will next appear in District Court on May 2.
50-year-old Anthony Towan Roberson was arrested Monday (April 17) by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with trafficking cocaine and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. Roberson was placed in jail in Morganton under $175,000 secured bond. A court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday (April 19).
An arrest has been made in a fatal shooting in Catawba County. 46-year-old Daniel Eric Campbell of East 1st Street in Newton has been arrested by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers and charged with murder.
At approximately 4:20 p.m. Monday (April 17) deputies responded to 3317 Hamlett Drive in Claremont. When they arrived they located Eric D. Goode in the residence. He had been shot one time and was deceased when officers arrived.
According to investigators, Campbell allegedly shot Goode following an argument. Officers went to Campbell's residence and determined he was inside but would not come to the door. Members of the Catawba County STAR Team entered the residence and found Campbell in the rear bedroom. A search of the home resulted in the seizure of two grams of methamphetamine, two long guns and three pistols.
Campbell is being held in the Catawba County Detention Facility under no bond. A first appearance in District Court was scheduled for today (Tuesday, April 18).
33-year-old Albert Dennis Schroeder of Hamlette Drive in Claremont was arrested Monday (April 17) by Catawba County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with two felony counts of intimidating a witness. In addition, Schroeder is charged with misdemeanor stalking, communicating threats, and breaking and entering. Schroeder was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $28,000 bond. District Court appearances were scheduled for today (Tuesday, April 18), and May 1.
27-year-old Jeffrey Scott Ohmer of Whitetail Drive in Lenoir was arrested Monday (April 17) by Lenoir Police Officers. He's charged with felony counts of possession of methamphetamine and possession of a stolen firearm. Following the arrest, Ohmer was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond. A District Court date was set for today (Tuesday, April 18).
18-year-old Layton Charles Jenkins of Green Meadow Lane in Statesville was arrested by Iredell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, possession with intent to sell and deliver schedule VI controlled substance, felony possession of marijuana, felony maintain a place for the sale of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and underage possession of alcohol. Jenkins was also served outstanding warrants for simple possession of marijuana, possession of schedule IV controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to a news release, embers of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (A.C.E) Team had received numerous complaints about the possibility of drugs being sold in the area of Green Meadow Lane and Jane Sowers Road. Deputies set up surveillance and identified Layton Charles Jenkins as the suspect.
On April 14 deputies observed what they thought was a drug deal taking place on Green Meadow Lane in front of Jenkins residence. Deputies then went to speak with Jenkins and could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from a playhouse behind the residence. Jenkins was found in the playhouse and he consented to a search. Officers found more than 50 grams of marijuana, close to ten grams of Butane Hash Oil (BHO) or “Shatter”, and numerous items of drug paraphernalia, and alcohol.
Jenkins' bond was set at $30,000 secured. A District Court appearance is scheduled for May 4.
22-year-old Cameron Dwayne Jordan of Charlotte, 18-year-old Brian Hady Karimian of Sherills Ford, and 21-year-old Melvin Patrick McCullah Jr. of Maiden were all arrested by Lincoln County Sheriff's Officers.
Jordan is charged with one felony count each of conspiracy, obtaining property by false pretenses, possession of a stolen firearm, larceny of a firearm, and breaking and entering a vehicle. He is also charged with misdemeanor conspiracy, possession of stolen goods, and larceny. Karimian was charged with two felony counts each of obtaining property by false pretenses and aiding and abetting a felony. He is also charged with one felony count each of conspiracy and possession of a stolen firearm along with one misdemeanor count of Conspiracy. McCullah was charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of stolen goods.
Last Saturday (April 15), Baker District deputies were dispatched to two vehicle break-in calls on Brookwood Road in Lincolnton. In one break-in items in the vehicle had been moved around but nothing appeared to have been taken.
In the second reported vehicle break-in, the victim told officers that her purse, which contained a .380 caliber handgun, credit cards, and identification, had been stolen from her unlocked vehicle overnight on April 14, 2017 and discovered the next morning. The credit card company called the victim to inquire about a number of purchases that had been made overnight and that alerted the victim to the break-in.
Deputies viewed surveillance video at Walmart in Lincolnton where purchases were made with one of the stolen credit cards. Using information from the video, officers were able to identify one of the suspects. That led to a residence on Ginger Lane where a search warrant was executed. Baker District deputies located items purchased at Walmart with the stolen credit card and some of the belongings of the victim. The handgun was located near a bridge on four-lane Highway 16 near Highway 150.
Jordan and Karimian will also be charged with two additional vehicle break-ins on Brookwood Road. Bond for both Jordan and Karimian was set at $41,000 secured. McCullah was released on a $2,500 secured bond. Jordan was scheduled to appear in District Court today (Tuesday, April 18). McCullah has a District Court date May 5, and Karimian will also appear in District Court May 9.
34-year-old Brian Lee Tate of Roger Hill Road in Connelly Springs and 18-year-old Ryan Kaine Whisnant of Kayla's Ridge Road in Hickory were arrested by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. They're each charged with felony breaking and entering, along with misdemeanor counts of larceny from a building and damage to personal property. Tate is also charged with misdemeanor probation violation, and Whisnant faces additional misdemeanor counts of operating a vehicle with no insurance, speeding, and resisting arrest.
On Sunday (April 16) at approximately 6:30 a.m., members of Shady Grove United Methodist Church at 5483 Sugar Loaf Road in Morganton, were preparing for Easter services when they discovered the sound equipment missing. They realized the church had been broken into and there were other items missing along with damage to the interior of the church.
The suspects spray painted two windows and scattered church files and other items throughout two of the offices. A member told deputies he saw two white males carrying backpacks walking on Corn Hill Road while on his way to the church. A Burke County Sheriff’s Office deputy located two male subjects walking along Kayla’s Ridge Road. The men were identified as the suspects Tate and Whisnant. According to a news release, they were carrying backpacks containing stolen property from the church.
Both subjects were taken into custody and placed in Burke Catawba District Confinement Facility. Tate's bond was set at $46,000 secured, Whisnant was jailed under $35,500 secured bond. Tate has a court date April 24, Tate was scheduled to make his first appearance Monday (April 17).
The Burke County Sheriff's Office is warning citizens of two scams that have affected residents.
On Thursday April 6, the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division was notified by a member of the Burke County Board of Realtors of a possible scam involving houses listed for sale. The scammers targeted a house listed on the Burke County Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and used photographs and the location of the home (found on the MLS website) to list the house for rent.
The scammers utilized social media to advertise the fake rental home and included a contact email address and phone number. A narrative was included stating the home is for rent because the occupants are out of the country on an extended mission trip. The fake advertisement also requested the individual to send a security deposit and first month’s rent. Upon receipt of the rent and deposit, the victim would receive a confirmation email and be directed to report to the Real Estate Office to pick up the keys.
Officers contacted the telephone number listed in the online posting and after identifying themselves as Investigators, the person hung up. Authorities are working with the Burke County Board of Realtors and would like to remind citizens who are in the market for a rental home to: Always contact a real estate office to confirm that a potential rental home is for rent and not for sale. And never send currency, gift cards, money grams, etc. to unknown sources.
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office is also receiving reports from citizens receiving telephone calls from a person claiming to be Sgt. Jackson with the Sheriff's Office. The caller instructs the citizen to go to CVS Pharmacy or Rite Aid to obtain green dot cards to submit money for missing jury duty. Authorities warn citizens that this or any similar request is a scam.
The Hickory Police Department is investigating the robbery of a credit union.
On Monday (April 17) at approximately 4:30 p.m., officers responded to a robbery at the Members Credit Union at 2142 12th Avenue NE. During the incident, a man entered the bank and approached the counter where he displayed a handgun and demanded money. After receiving an undisclosed amount of money, he exited the business and fled on foot.
The subject is described as being a white male in his early 20s, 5’6” with stocky build, weighing approximately 250 pounds. The suspect was wearing a royal blue shirt, black jogging pants, black rimmed glasses, a fake beard, he was carrying a backpack and wearing a hat.
Hickory Police are actively seeking the above subject at this time. Anyone with information in reference to this case is asked to contact Inv. K. Craig at the Hickory Police Department at (828) 328-5551 or at (828) 261-2616 or email@example.com.
22-year-old Khali Amir Holmes has been arrested by Iredell Co. Sheriff’s Officers on two felony counts of statutory rape of a child as well as four felony counts of statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult offender.
On March 24, the Sheriff’s Office took a report regarding the statutory rape of a child. An investigation led to Holmes’ arrest on one count of statutory rape. He was jailed in the Iredell County Detention Center.
Through further investigation, Detectives learned that the suspect had several prior encounters with the juvenile victim, leading to additional charges. The offenses allegedly occurred between January 1 and March 24 of this year in southern Iredell County.
Holmes was given a $300,000 secured bond. District Court appearances were scheduled for today (April 17) and for April 19.
31-year-old Robert Brandon Simons of 2nd Street N.E. in Conover was arrested by Hickory Police at about 7:20 Friday evening (April 14) on one felony count of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer and misdemeanor counts of assault by pointing a gun and breaking & entering.
He was arrested after Police responded to reports of a person with a gun at an address on 25th Street N.E. Residents and guests at the property reported that an unknown male approached the fence-line. When one of the guest approached, the man presented a handgun. No injuries were reported, and the suspect left the scene prior to the arrival of Police.
Catawba County Communications then reported that the possible subject had been seen at an address on 26th Street N.E. The suspect, Robert Brandon Simons, was then found in a garage at a different address on 25th Street N.E. Simons was taken into custody without incident.
He was jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $23,000, secured. An appearance in District Court was scheduled today (April 23) in Newton.