Vincent offers plea
By LANCE MARTIN
RALEIGH – Former Northampton County Sheriff’s Deputy Wardie Vincent Jr. has entered a plea agreement with the federal government for his crimes in the Operation Rockfish police corruption case.
Court records filed Tuesday show Vincent intends to plead guilty on counts one and two which are counts involving conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and use of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking.
As part of the plea arrangement, 11 other counts against Vincent will be dismissed at sentencing scheduled for the court’s Dec. 8 term in Greenville.
Vincent, signed his name to a waiver of indictment which says, “I understand that I have been accused of one or more offenses punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. I was advised in open court of my rights and the nature of the proposed charges against me. After receiving this advice, I waive my right to prosecution by indictment and consent to prosecution by information.”
Vincent, the son of retired Northampton Sheriff Wardie Vincent Sr., and all other defendants in the case, with the exception of Crystal Pierce and Tosha Dailey, will remain in federal custody.
Tuesday, according to court records filed in the case, also saw the arraignment date changed to the December term.
In his order to continue the arraignment, Senior United States District Judge Malcolm J. Howard wrote, “The court heard from the parties regarding the voluminous nature of the discovery and the time burden such discovery has placed on the defense attorneys, many of whom are solo practitioners.
“After giving each defendant’s counsel an opportunity to be heard, as well as hearing the reasons for opposition from counsel for the government, the court finds that an extension is necessary to allow defense counsel to effectively represent their clients,” he added.
Howard ordered all pretrial motions, including motions to compel discovery, motions to suppress, and other motions to be filed no later than Nov. 10. Responses shall be filed no later than Nov. 24.
Other former Northampton Sheriff’s deputies indicted in “Operation Rockfish” include Ikeisha Jacobs, Jason Boone, Cory Jackson, Jimmy Pair Jr., Curtis Boone, and Thomas Jefferson Allen II. Also indicted were Antonio Tillmon, formerly a police officer with the Windsor Police Department, and Dailey, formerly a 911 dispatch operator for Northampton County.
The Operation Rockfish police corruption sting contains a 54-count federal indictment that alleges 13 law enforcement officers and two other individuals protected narcotics shipments and cash proceeds during transit along the East Coast for what they believed was a large-scale drug trafficking organization that was actually an undercover operation by the FBI.
On Wednesday, Judge Howard called for detention hearings on Sept. 1-2 at the federal courthouse in Greenville. Six defendants and their attorneys will appear before the judge each day. Meanwhile the other three individuals indicted in the case – Pierce and Daily, both out on bond, and Vincent Jr. because of his plea, will not be part of the detention hearings.
Howard explained the reasoning for the hearings in an order filed in the federal court record of the case.
“Although a district court is generally without authority to take any adjudicatory action related to a matter on appeal, the same statute which expressly authorizes the district court to impose conditions upon release pending appeal, implicitly authorizes the court to make such amendment to these conditions as circumstances may necessitate,” he stated.
Case precedent, he wrote, expressly authorizes a trial court to reopen the detention hearing at any time before trial if the judicial official becomes apprised of new information material to the issue of detention.
Apart from the provisions contained in Unite States Code, Howard said, “The court finds the detention issue must be reopened to examine more fundamental constitutional concerns which became apparent to this court at a hearing Tuesday on the defendants’ motion to continue arraignment.”
At the scheduled detention hearings Howard wrote he will consider the following issues: seriousness of the charges; defendants’ risk of flight or danger to the community; strength of the government’s case on the merits; and complexity of the case and whether the strategy of one side or the other has added needlessly to that complexity.
Scheduled hearings on Sept. 1 will be for Lann Clanton, Jason Boone, Adrienne Moody, Cory Jackson, Ikeisha Jacobs, and Jimmy Pair Jr. On Sept. 2, Curtis Boone, Antonio Tillmon, Alania Sue-Kam-Ling, Kavon Phillips, Alphonso Ponton, and Thomas Jefferson Allen II are scheduled.
(Lance Martin is Editor and Publisher of www.rrspin.com. Permission was granted to publish this story.)