‘Rockfish’ defendants seek approval of motions

Published 9:41 am Friday, June 9, 2017


One Operation Rockfish defendant is seeking a continuance in his sentencing next week, while another found guilty by a federal jury last month is asking for a new trial.

Court documents filed Monday in the police corruption case show the attorney for former Northampton County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Jefferson Allen II has asked for a continuance to help his mother relocate.

Allen is scheduled for sentencing on June 15 at 1 p.m. in Greenville.

His attorney, W.H. Paramore III, said in a motion Allen currently resides with his elderly mother, a cancer survivor, in the Gaston area. His mother’s condition continues to be followed by oncologists.

“The defendant’s mother currently lives on a large farm … the farm and home place have been held for several generations by the defendant’s family. Ms. Allen has lived on the farm in the home place for 49 years,” Paramore stated in his motion.

The attorney said Allen’s only sibling lives in the Wilmington area and is unable to assist in their mother’s relocation.

“Ms. Allen has sold the home place and forty acres of the family farm with a closing set on July 6,” Paramore noted, adding that Ms. Allen will relocate to Tennessee to be close to her older brother who has significant health issues.

“Ms. Allen is asking your honor that her son, the defendant, be allowed to assist her with this relocation – not only does this relocation include moving furniture and belongings, but this relocation out of North Carolina will require new doctors, an attorney to prepare estate documents and a power of attorney for the defendant, banking matters, and other contacts that need to be made and in place before the defendant starts any period of incarceration in the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” said Paramore in his motion.

He added, “The defendant and his mother have been unable to determine how much time it will take after the relocation to resolve all the issues created by this permanent relocation … The defendant is aware of the possibility of self-surrender and has discussed this in detail with counsel and knows that it is in the complete discretion of your honor and just does not know at this juncture whether all matters concerning the relocation and establishment of a care plan for his mother, in his absence, can be completed in 30 days.”

Allen has remained in compliance with the United States Probation Office regarding supervision pre-plea and pre-sentencing.

“The defendant, through counsel, has reached out to the Assistant United States Attorney by phone calls and with voice mail and a personal visit to the federal building in Raleigh but has not heard from the government about its position on this motion, but would assume that the government would oppose same,” Paramore’s motion read.

Also on Monday, Paul K. Sun Jr., the attorney for recently convicted Rockfish defendant Antonio Tillmon, filed a motion requesting a new trial.

Tillmon was the only defendant in the case, one involving 14 others, to not enter a guilty plea. The former officer with the Windsor Police Department was found guilty late last month following a week-long trial in Federal Court in Greenville. He is scheduled for sentencing in September.

Sun contends the government intended to and did unfairly prejudice the jury against Tillmon by scripting a scene to portray him as complicit in planned murders and that evidence weighed heavily against the verdict.

That evidence came in the form of a video and transcript of a person only identified in court documents as Tee talking after a trip to Maryland in March of 2015.

“The video evidence showed that Tee paid Mr. Tillmon and that Mr. Tillmon confirmed that he was carrying a firearm. The government had already presented evidence that Mr. Tillmon was paid on March 26 following the trip to Maryland and that he was armed on that date, making the video evidence on these points cumulative,” Sun said in his motion.

The rest of the video evidence consisted of Tee telling Tillmon he wanted a small revolver so he could sneak up on his victims and shoot them without leaving shells as evidence and then throw away the gun.

The transcript quotes Tee as saying, “I’m trying to get like a thirty-eight, something small, a revolver that don’t need no shells, know what I mean … I just walk right up on ‘em and keep rolling … But when I’m bang off that, I’m banging just a bunch of people … I need somebody, you know, how you boom-boom and then throw that (expletive deleted) away and I ain’t worried about it no more.”

Tillmon objected to the video evidence and the court ruled it was inadmissible.

“The government persisted in its effort to admit the evidence,” Sun wrote. “After Mr. Tillmon testified, the government again sought to admit the video evidence. Mr. Tillmon again pointed out that except for the cumulative evidence that Mr. Tillmon had been paid and was armed, the video evidence was not relevant to any of the charges against him and was highly prejudicial.”

Sun wrote the government argued that the evidence was relevant to the charge in Count 2, conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime as charged in Count 1.

“Tee, however, makes no reference to drug trafficking; he expresses interest in obtaining a firearm only so he can shoot his victims,” Sun stated in the motion. “As the government noted in its closing, Tee was asking for ‘a gun that wouldn’t leave evidence behind when he used it in a violent crime,’ not during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The government cannot use the video evidence to prove a crime — using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence — that was not charged in the indictment.”

Concluded Sun, “The weakness of the government’s case is manifest in the government’s argument that the ‘most incriminating’ evidence was the irrelevant video of Tee and Mr. Tillmon in the Corvette. As the thirteenth juror, the court has the discretion to weigh the evidence, assess the effect of the government’s improper evidence and argument, and determine that the interest of justice requires the grant of a new trial.”

(Lance Martin is the Editor and Publisher of www.rrspin.com. Permission was received to publish this story.)