Lawmen deliver on promise

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AULANDER – Bertie County law enforcement officials have kept their promise.

Upon his drug third arrest in less than 18 months, Bertie officers promised to take its case against Alton Larchon Whitaker to the federal level.

On Monday night, they followed through with that pledge.

Picked-up at his Aulander residence (405 Chestnut Street), Whitaker was transported to the Pitt County Detention Center in Greenville by Aulander Police Chief Jimmy Barmer and Bertie Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Frank Timberlake.

On Tuesday morning, Barmer and Timberlake returned to Greenville where they handed over the 30-year-old Whitaker to U.S. Marshals. From that point, the Marshals took Whitaker before a Federal Magistrate where he was informed of the charges filed against him by the United States District Court n Eastern District. They include:

Count 1 (stemming from an April 25, 2006 arrest) n Whitaker did knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute a quality of cocaine base (crack). If convicted, that charge carries a 20-30 year prison term, $2 million in fines and six years probation.

Count 2 (an arrest made on Aug. 8, 2006) – Whitaker did knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base (crack). If found guilty, that charge carries 10 years to life behind bars, $4 million in fines and eight years probation.

After being read the charges, Whitaker was returned to the Detention Center where he is held under no bond. He has a detention hearing scheduled for Nov. 28 before a U.S. District Court Judge.

Barmer said that Whitaker’s prior arrest record has now led to him being listed as a career criminal.

“This could not have happened without us being proactive in our jobs as law enforcement officers,” Barmer said. “Frank (Timberlake), Kenny (Gilliam, a Bertie Sheriff’s Drug Task Force Detective) and I spent a lot of long hours to get this case to this point.”

Barmer thanked the assistance of Bertie Sheriff Greg Atkins and his law enforcement team. He also offered praise for the help of Bertie County Community Corrections, especially the aid of Officer Sheldon Rhynes.

“Bertie County is fortunate to have such a dedicated group that works well with local law enforcement,” Barmer said of the Community Corrections group.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Atkins was pleased with how this case progressed from the local to the federal level.

“Mr. Whitaker had been a priority target of ours for quite a while,” Atkins noted. “He has been dealing drugs for some time and also has a history of violence. We are very glad to get him off our streets and are happy he is no longer able to peddle his poison.”

At the Aug. 8 arrest, “Buddy” n a specially trained canine capable of finding drugs n sniffed out an ounce of crack cocaine.

Upon being taken into custody on that charge, Whitaker was on probation for a previous conviction of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine. Additionally from the August incident, he was out on bond stemming from a second arrest on the same charges.