Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Indictment spells out former officer's drug dealing arrest

Officers weren't surprised to find the drugs and the guns while searching an east Charlotte house at the tail end of a massive joint investigation.

But, police say, they were surprised to be arresting one of their own -- former police officer Theodore Kennedy.

Kennedy was arrested Monday at the tail end of a four-month investigation into suspected drug dealers using motels in northern Charlotte as a way station for crime.

Kennedy, who served as an officer from 1977 until 1993, is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. His wife, Roberta Kennedy, is also charged.

Little is known about Kennedy's time on the force. (In 1985, he shot a west Charlotte man in the mouth during stepped-up police activities after a shootout at Piedmont Courts. He wasn't charged with a crime.)

But the Kennedys alleged drug connections are spelled out in a federal indictment that was submitted on Monday.

On Monday morning, according to the indictment, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Kerwin Burke at 5042 The Plaza. (According to WCNC-TV, Burke is the boyfriend of Kennedy's daughter.) Officers figured Burke was at the home because his 1996 Chevy Caprice Classic was parked there.

But when officers knocked on the front door, they were met by Kennedy, according to the affidavit. His wife came to the door too and consented to officers searching the house.

When officers entered the couple's bedroom, they saw what appeared to be a mixture of crack and cocaine on the bed -- in all about 17.6 grams. Kennedy entered the bedroom and said "That's all hers."

Officers asked Kennedy if he had any guns or weapons inside the bedroom and he responded "Yeah, I have a couple."

Officers found seven guns scattered through the bedroom. They also found another baggie of cocaine in a dresser drawer. The drawer also contained "Kennedy's police identification from his previous service with CMPD."

Monroe said Kennedy's status as a former officer won't shield him.

"No one is immune from this," Monroe said at the news conference on Monday. "If you choose to engage in drug sales or gun-running in this community, you're a target." -- Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prosecutors: Ponzi scheme takes $40 million from victims

A federal grand jury in Charlotte this week indicted four men in connection with what prosecutors allege was an investment fraud conspiracy.

Prosecutors have accused the men of operating "hedge funds" as part of a conspiracy that took in $40 million from victims for a Ponzi scheme operating under the name Black Diamond Capital Solutions.

The indictment alleges that the defendants lied to get money from their victims by claiming, among other things, that they had done due diligence on Black Diamond and were operating legitimate hedge funds with significant safeguards. In reality, prosecutors say, neither claim was true.

Prosecutors allege that one of the men stole more than a million dollars from victims to build his personal mansion.

To read the U.S. Attorney's Office's news release, click here.

To read the indictment, click here.

-- Gary L. Wright

Monday, February 20, 2012

Settlement: Former councilman Turner wins big

Former Charlotte City Council member Warren Turner at first was fired in July 2010 from his job as a state probation officer. The following year he lost his bid for reelection.

But Turner, 47, appealed his firing. This month, a year and a half after the firing, he got his job back. He’s no longer a probation officer. But he’s working for the same salary only now as an judicial services coordinator for the probation office in Gaston County. Judicial services coordinators are responsible for the intake of new probation cases, preparing pre-sentencing reports and conducting initial risk-needs assessments.

Turner was fired for missing meetings or drug screenings with at least 14 probationers, according to the termination letter released in 2010 by the DOC. The DOC also said Turner falsified at least one record of a home visit with a probationer and reported visiting with probationers on days that he was on leave or wasn’t scheduled to work.

N.C. Department of Correction officials aren’t saying much about Turner’s firing and reinstatement. The settlement agreement says the DOC and Turner have agreed that the only statement they’ll make about the firing, reinstatement and reassignment is:

“The DOC has reviewed the formal appeal of Mr. Warren Turner. After careful consideration of the issues raised by both  Mr. Turner and DOC, the parties have reached a mutual settlement agreement. The Department reviewed Mr. Turner’s level of career experience and agrees to his reinstatement.”

But it’s clear from the settlement agreement that Turner won big. He’ll get back pay from the date of his firing to the date of his reinstatement. The state also has agreed to pay $10,000 to Turner’s legal counsel for the cost of his appeal.

To see the  settlement agreement, click here.

Gary L. Wright

Friday, February 17, 2012

CMPD offers workshops for Mecklenburg residents

Registration is now open for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's spring workshops for the public.

The "community education workshops" will teach people about the department's history, recruitment process, training of recruits and officers, crime prevention techniques, criminal investigations, gangs, volunteer opportunities and more.

The workshops are open to Mecklenburg County residents age 18 and older. Applications are not necessary to attend, but registration for each workshop is required.

Mecklenburg residents who are at least 18 years old can also apply to participate in the Citizens Academy program. Those who participate in this program will be able to see exercises and demonstrations of police operations. An application and background check is required to participate in the Citizens Academy.

The workshops will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at CMPD headquarters on East Trade Street in uptown or at the Police and Fire Training Academy on Shopton Road in southwest Charlotte.

The workshops begin March 13.

For more information and registration, visit CMPD's website or call 704-432-1655.

--Meghan Cooke

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

North Tryon Division gets new bikes

Are two wheels better than four?

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's North Tryon Divison launched its new bike patrol during a press conference outside the Compare Foods at N. Tryon Street and Sugar Creek Road.

Officers B. Etter, J. Wally and J. Lancaster make up the patrol, which will ride through business parking lots and some apartment complexes along North Tryon Street.

Lt. Jeff Harless, the Response Area Commander for that part of the city, says officers will attempt to decrease larcenies from autos and robberies from businesses along the corridor. The bikes will make them more approachable, Harless says, and give them a bigger element of surprise when trying to combat crimes.

"The bad guys aren't looking out for bikes, they're looking for patrol cars," Harless said.

During the press conference, members of the new squad took some questions about whether they'll be taken as seriously on a bike. But bike officers were credited with one of the department's bigger success stories last year.

Officers arrested 15 people in connection with a drug ring along North Tryon Street (in the Metro Division, just south of the North Tryon Division) where drug dealers recruited homeless people from nearby shelters to work as drug runners and deal-brokers.

Officer Jared Porter, an officer who patrolled the area on bicycle, was one of the first to notice the trend. -- Cleve R. Wootson Jr.