Tillmon gets 15 years in prison

Published 10:44 am Thursday, October 12, 2017


GREENVILLE – On Monday, Antonio Tillmon faced his fiancée in a jailhouse wedding ceremony. One day later he faced a federal judge in a sentencing for his role in the Operation Rockfish police corruption case.

United States Judge Malcolm Howard sentenced Tillmon here Tuesday to serve 15 years in prison. Tillmon, a former Windsor Police officer, was the only one of the so-called Rockfish 15 to plead not guilty in the corruption case. The other defendants were sentenced over the course of two days this summer.

Before his sentencing, in which he also received five years of supervised release following his prison term, Tillmon told Howard, “Thank you for your hard work.”


He also thanked his legal team of Paul K. Sun Jr. and Kelly Dagger for their work on his case.

“I’m sorry for everything that transpired,” he said. “I will live out my life helping people.”

Fresh from his marriage Monday at the Pitt County Detention Center, which Sun referenced before sentencing, Tillmon walked into the courtroom smiling at his family, which included his bride, Shokya, and their 7-week-old son, Antonio Jr.

After last-minute objections were heard, Sun spoke on behalf of his client. “Every case is different, each defendant is different … 15 years is sufficient.”

Sun spoke of Tillmon’s devotion to his family, saying, “He is a loving husband, a loving father and grandson. He’s a friend. Mr. Tillmon is always the one to have a helping hand. He’s an incredibly hard worker.”

Sun said his client worked when he was studying at Chowan University.

“That’s what he’ll be when he walks out of prison,” the attorney stated.

Tillmon was never a drug dealer, Sun said, and he won’t become one.

“There’s no chance of recidivism. Everybody said Mr. Tillmon was a good cop,” Sun noted.

At 33, Sun said his client “will have a long life to live when he leaves prison.”

Molly Gaston, an assistant United States attorney, said, however, Tillmon participated in three operations where purported drugs and drug proceeds were shipped up and down the Eastern Seaboard. On the day of his arrest he had five weapons on him.

“He minimized his own actions,” she said. “To date, the defendant never expressed remorse or responsibility for his actions. His co-defendants accepted pleas and responsibility.”

In a statement released by the United States Attorney’s Office on Tuesday afternoon, the government said Tillmon accepted $6,500 from undercover FBI agents posing as drug traffickers in return for transporting a total of 30 kilograms of heroin from North Carolina to Maryland on three separate occasions between August 2014 and April 2015. 

On each occasion, Tillmon carried with him his Windsor Police Department badge and a firearm, and was prepared to use his badge and fake documentation to evade drug interdiction by legitimate law enforcement.  The evidence at trial also showed that Tillmon was poised to participate in another drug run on a fourth occasion the day he was arrested.

Tillmon went into Tuesday’s proceeding with two counts against him dropped.

Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp, whose office received the initial complaints of police corruption said of the sentence, “The court has spoken.”

Outside the courthouse following the proceedings, Mrs. Tillmon, her eyes still streaked with tears, said her husband is in good spirits despite the circumstances.

“His spirits are high. He’s happy,” she stated.

She said her husband is already on a road to becoming a better person.

“He just got caught up in a wrong situation. He just got caught up with the wrong people. He has a strong faith in God. I’m hurt but I’m happy,” she said.

Mrs. Tillmon said her husband’s attorneys served as witnesses for the Monday wedding ceremony, adding, “It was beautiful.”

Tuesday’s sentencing brought an end to over two years of judicial maneuvering following the arrests of the ‘Rockfish 15” in April of 2015. Tillmon and his co-defendants stood charged with a number of crimes for accepting bribe payments from a purported large-scale drug trafficking organization in exchange for protecting shipments of purported narcotics. Those drug traffickers were actually undercover FBI agents.

Tillmon was the only one whose case went to trail. After numerous postponements, that court case was heard in May of this year where Tillmon was found guilty of drug, firearm, and bribery charges following a week-long jury trial.

Fourteen other defendants, 12 of whom were law enforcement or correctional officers, were charged as a result of this investigation.  Those defendants all pleaded guilty to various offenses – to include conspiracy to distribute illegal narcotics, firearm charges and bribery charges – and were sentenced in June. They were:

Lann Tjuan Clanton, 38, of Garysburg was sentenced to 195 months; Ikeisha Jacobs, 33, of Rich Square (120 months); Jason Boone, 31, of Henrico (96 months); Wardie Vincent Jr., 37, of Henrico (72 months); Adrienne Moody, 38, of Roanoke Rapids (87 months); Cory Jackson, 45, of Garysburg (87 months); Jimmy Pair Jr., 50, of Pleasant Hill (87 months); Curtis Boone, 37, of Gaston (87 months); Thomas Jefferson Allen, 39, of Roanoke Rapids (87 months); Alaina Sue-Kam-Ling, 27, of Charlotte (38 months); Kavon Phillips, 26, of Rich Square (57 months); Alphonso Ponton, 44, of Weldon (48 months); Crystal Pierce, 32, of Roanoke Rapids (6 months); and Tohsa Dailey, 37, of Garysburg, (24 months).

At the time of the crimes, Jacobs, Jason Boone, Pair Jr., Curtis Boone and Allen were Deputy Sheriffs at the Northampton County Sheriff’s Office; Clanton, Vincent Jr. and Jackson were former law enforcement officers; Moody, Sue-Kam-Ling, Phillips and Ponton were correctional officers; and Dailey was a 911 dispatch operator for Northampton County.

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