5 Johnston County Residents Sentenced To Federal Prison
(Right) Joanne Session Smith of Clayton was the ringleader of a large scale cocaine distribution network from 1990 to 2011 in Johnston County. She was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
Five people have been sentenced on federal charges related to a cocaine distribution network in the Johnston County area.
Joanne Session Smith, 57, of Clayton, Al Mace, 33, of Smithfield, Dwayne May, 47, Brenda Richardson, 50, and Cherie Snead, 40, all of Selma, were sentenced by US District Judge Malcolm Howard.
All five individuals had previously pled guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. The charges stemmed from a narcotics ring responsible for selling large amounts of cocaine from January 1990 to December 2011.
The ring was broken in 2011 when Smith was identified by law enforcement as a drug trafficker. The other four assisted her by delivering crack cocaine. May also provided protection.
Smith and May received the longest sentences of 14 years. Snead received a 5-year prison sentence. Mace and Richardson were both sentenced to two years in federal prison.
Assistant US Attorney Jennifer E. Wells praised the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office for their “diligent and thorough work.”
Smith is believed to have distributed over 284 kilograms of crack cocaine and 64 grams of cocaine. She took orders from multiple buyers, converted cocaine into crack, packaged the crack for sale, and arranged the delivery of the drugs to buyers. She also maintained a premise for distributing drugs.
Selma Police Seize 225 Pounds Of Marijuana
Selma Police seized marijuana with a street value of $600,000 last week, but the seizure didn’t take place anywhere near Selma.
Last Thursday, two Selma police detectives were working a multi-agency campaign on I-85 in Durham.
The officers observed a rental truck fail to move over for an emergency vehicle parked on the shoulder of the interstate. They stopped the truck and after speaking with the driver learned he was traveling from New York to South Carolina.
A K-9 alerted for narcotics in the vehicle.
Detectives Scott Richardson and Dominic Dias (pictured left to right) searched the cargo area and located 225 pounds of marijuana packaged in cardboard boxes and concealed in black plastic wrap.
Two people in the truck were arrested on marijuana trafficking charges. Their names were not immediately released.
“Many people who start out using marijuana for the first time end up using harder drugs later on,” Detective Richardson said. “If taking this marijuana off the streets saves someone’s life, and keeps them from ever using narcotics, then I know that we have done our job in protecting and serving our Community and fellow Americans.”
Two Charged In Shooting Of 13 Year-Old
Zebulon Police have arrested two people in connection with a shooting that injured a child.
Just before midnight Monday, officers responded to a report of 4 to 5 shots being fired in the 500 block of E. North Street.
When they arrived they found a 13 year-old boy had been grazed in the neck by one of the shots. Luckily, the young boy did not have to go to the hospital and was treated at the scene by paramedics.
Additional shots that were fired struck apartment complex buildings behind the victim.
With the help of a Wake County Sheriff’s Department K-9 team, the suspects were tracked to a nearby home and arrested, according to Zebulon Police Chief Tim Hayworth.
Cedano Lee Moore, 22, and Barry Darnell Sills, 47, both of N. Privette Street, Zebulon were arrested. They were charged with conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
Chief Hayworth said additional charges have not been ruled out.
Puppy Seized During Animal Cruelty Investigation Euthanized
A dog seized from a Smithfield man during an animal cruelty case Monday afternoon was later euthanized because of its extremely poor health.
Smithfield Police receive a tip about a 4 month-old black lab at a home on Blount Street.
Police Captain Bruce Gentry said when officers arrived they located the puppy, which showed signs obvious signs of neglect and malnourishment.
Johnston County Animal Control responded to the scene and took custody of the animal. However, due to its poor condition, Animal Services Director Ernie Wilkinson said the puppy was euthanized.
The man police said was the owner of the puppy, Dennis Lee Watson, 39, of Smithfield was arrested for animal cruelty. He was given a $2,500 bond pending an October 27 court appearance on the misdemeanor charge.
Internet Café Public Hearing Scheduled For October 20th
The public hearing for a proposed sweepstakes café in Clayton has been rescheduled for Monday, October 20th.
The public hearing was originally scheduled for the September 2nd council meeting. At that meeting, Mayor Pro-tem Michael Grannis moved that it be rescheduled for Monday, October 20th. No explanation was given for the delay.
The Special Use Permit for RNC Entertainment would allow it to operate a video sweepstakes business in the former Blockbuster building at the Wal-Mart Shopping Center on U.S. Hwy 70.
The proposed business would house 80 video gaming machines.
Unaccompanied children under the age of 18 would be prohibited from entering. The operating hours would be from 9am to 1am Sunday through Thursday and 9am to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
If approved at the next Town Council meeting, this would be Clayton’s fifth video sweepstakes business.
The public hearing will begin at 6:30pm and be held in the Council Chambers at the Town Hall, located at 111 East Second Street.
Smithfield Proclaims September 17-23 As Constitution Week
Smithfield Mayor John Lampe has proclaimed September 17th-23rd as Constitution Week 2014.
September 17th marks the 227th anniversary of the drafting of the United States Constitution.
The Constitution was signed by delegates at the U.S. Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on that date in 1787
The law establishing the present holiday was created in 2004.
Mayor Lampe presented a copy of the proclamation to members of the Smith-Bryan Daughters of the American Revolution.
The group invites all Johnston County churches and schools to celebrate the signing by ringing bells on September 17th at 4:00pm, the time of the original signing.
Smithfield Police Make 3 Weekend DWI Arrests
Smithfield Police made three weekend drunk driving arrests.
Around 1:41am Saturday, police said they witnessed a car operating recklessly in the parking lot of Twisters, at 1300 South Brightleaf Boulevard. After stopping the vehicle a short distance away, Jose Palomo Gonzalez, 23, of Powhatan Road, Clayton was arrested. Lt. R.K. Powell said Gonzalez registered 0.17 on the Breathalyzer, above the legal limit of 0.08. Gonzalez was charged with driving while impaired and driving without a license. He was released on a $2,500 bond.
Officers were on patrol around 9:53pm Saturday when they said they stopped a Chevy truck in the 1300 block of South Brightleaf Boulevard. The driver, Garrett Cody Martin, 21, of Highway 222 West, Middlesex was charged with DWI. Lt. Powell said Martin registered 0.16 on a Breathalyzer. Martin was released on a $1,500 bond pending an October 30 court appearance.
James Richard Soard, 52, of Ricks Road, Selma was arrested fir DWI at 2:07am Sunday. Lt. Powell said officers stopped a Ford truck Soard was operating in the 1300 block of North Brightleaf Boulevard. He later registered 0.09 on the Breathalyzer. He was given a court date of November 18 after being released from custody on $1,500 bail.
Bus Strikes Car In School Parking Lot
No one was injured Friday afternoon when a school bus collided with a parked car at Smithfield Selma High School.
The accident happened around 2:35pm.
A bus driver had parked a school bus in the parking lot and had walked to the back of the bus when she felt the bus begin to move. The bus rolled backwards striking an unoccupied Ford SUV owned by William Robert Parker of Smithfield.
Damage to the bus was estimated at $100. Damage to the SUV was placed at $2,500. No injuries were reported, and no charges were filed by Smithfield Police.
JCSO: Driver Who Sped Past Deputy Arrested
A Maryland man landed in the Johnston County Jail Friday afternoon on speeding and reckless driving charges.
Around 5pm, an unmarked Johnston County Sheriff’s Office patrol car was traveling on I-95 near the Keen Road Exit in Four Oaks, when a driver traveling in excess of 80mph in a 65mph zone reportedly passed the deputy.
Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland said the deputy attempted to stop the suspect’s car, however the driver accelerated to more than 100mph. The vehicle finally stopped on US701 near I-95.
David Rawls Campbell Jr., 37, of Frederick, MD was charged with speeding and reckless driving to endanger. He was given a $5,000 bond.
Driver Charged With $64 Fuel Theft
Thanks to an alert employee who wrote down the license plate number of a car, Johnston County deputies were able to arrest a driver who allegedly pumped fuel into her car then drove away without paying.
The gas drive off was reported around 4pm Sunday at the Murphy gas station in the 4900 block of Highway 42 West near I-40.
Deputies identified the suspect as Jeana Nunney Muster, 35, of Lee Road, Clayton.
Muster was later located and charged with the larceny of $64 worth of fuel. She was booked into the Johnston County Jail under a $1,000 bond.
Teen Arrested For Marijuana Possession
An undercover narcotics agent with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office reportedly found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in a car during a traffic stop near Pine Level Friday night.
Sheriff’s Captain A.C. Strickland told WTSB News the officer witnessed a car fail to stop for a red light on North Brightleaf Boulevard at the entrance to Wal-Mart in Smithfield. After following and observing the vehicle, the officer conducted the traffic stop.
Samantha Nicole Parker, 18, of Browns Pond Road, Selma was charged with possession of marijuana up to ½ ounce, and possession of drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors.
Parker was released from the Johnston County Jail after posting $1,500 bail.
Father Of NFL Player Serious Injured In Selma Crash
The father of Denver Bronco’s player Marvin Austin Jr., who was a former standout for three seasons with the UNC Tarheels, was seriously injured in a single car accident Sunday night in Johnston County.
Marvin Austin Sr., 49, of Oxon Hills, MD was behind the wheel of a car that ran off Buffalo Road near Live Oak Church Road, north of Selma, around 6:30pm. Austin was ejected from the car and rushed to WakeMed where he underwent emergency surgery.
Three other people were in the car. Their injuries were not as serious.
The Highway Patrol told WTSB News on Monday the accident remains under investigation. Speed was a factor but they have not said if alcohol played a role.
His son, Marvin Austin Jr. signed with the Denver Broncos this year. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the New York Giants. He also played with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.
Austin, played three years with UNC before being dismissed by the team.
Clayton Man Killed In Tennessee Rafting Accident
A Clayton man died in a weekend rafting accident in Tennessee.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the 50 year-old man was rafting on the Ocoee River with when the raft overturned. The victim was with six other people in the raft when it overturned in a rapid on the river in Polk County on Saturday, according to the newspaper report.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the man was unresponsive when he was recovered from the water farther down the river. His name was not immediately released. Investigators say the victim was wearing a life jacket.
Officials say the death is the fourth fatal accident on the Ocoee River in the past four years. The accident is under investigation.
Two New Bridges Open To Traffic
Late Friday, the NC Department of Transportation reopened the bridge on Bizzell Grove Church Road between Pine Level and Princeton to traffic.
Work began in May on the replacement of the 56 year-old bridge, which is part of a larger project to replace 12 bridges throughout Johnston County. This is the eighth bridge to be replaced in the project.
In addition to the bridge on Bizzell Grove Church Road, the DOT also reopened the new bridge on Old Fairground Road late-Friday. This completes a larger project to improve the intersection of Old Fairground Road and Massengill Pond Road.
The DOT closed the intersection of Old Fairground Road and Massengill Pond Road southeast of Angier on Monday, August 25, so crews could realign the intersection and reverse the traffic pattern from the previous alignment to improve mobility through the area.
Motorists using Massengill Pond Road previously had to stop at the intersection with Old Fairground Road, while traffic on Old Fairground Road had the right-of-way to go through the intersection without stopping. The change allows drivers on Massengill Pond Road to go through the intersection, while traffic heading south on Old Fairground Road will have to stop.
Selma Accepts $104,000 Assistance To Firefighters Grant
The Selma Town Council has accepted a $104,000 Assistance To Firefighters Grant.
The purpose of the FEMA grant is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations.
Town Manager Jon Barlow (pictured right) said that in 2013 the Selma Fire Department applied for the grant to replace all of its communications equipment.
Barlow said the current radios are 14 years old. In 2016, Johnston County will undergo an upgrade to its entire communications system and render Selma’s current radios useless. WTSB Photo
Smithfield License Plate Agency Closing Two Days
Office to undergo two-day training sessions
The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles will close its Smithfield license plate agency on Tuesday, September 16 and Wednesday, September 17 to conduct customer service training.
NCDMV is currently holding statewide customer service training courses for all office locations. The Smithfield agency will reopen on Thursday, September 18 at 9:00 a.m.
License Plate Agencies will be open in Angier, Dunn, Goldsboro, Raleigh, and Zebulon on Tuesday and Wednesday to provide vehicle registration services.
The Smithfield location will reopen on Thursday.
Smithfield Tables Request For Cost of Service Study
The Smithfield Town Council tabled a request for an Electric Utility Cost of Service Study and Rate Design.
Public Utilities Director Ken Griffin (pictured) asked the council Tuesday to award $30,548 contract to Utility Financial Solutions.
Griffin said the Town last conducted such a study the mid-1990s.
With the new agreement between ElectriCities and Duke Energy Progress, Griffin said the Town is anticipating significantly reduced costs for purchased power which make up 85% of the Town’s cost to provide electric service to its customers.
Griffin said the Public Utilties staff felt it was time for a new study and rate design for all classes of the Town’s electric utility.
Council Member Travis Scott said he didn’t feel like it was a good way to spend $30,000 when the Town could do its own analysis.
Town Manager Paul Sabiston said the Town has several different rates and that what’s required is a complicated, sophisticated analysis.
Council Member Charles A. Williams asked if the Town could wait on implementing the study.
Sabiston said the Town could wait until January or February before making a decision. Scott moved that the matter be tabled until January. WTSB Photo
Town of Clayton’s Bond Rating Is Upgraded
Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the Town of Clayton bond rating.
The new Aa2 rating means Moody’s ranks Clayton as “high quality financially and a very low credit risk.” Moody’s says the Town has the “best ability or high ability to repay short term debt.”
It’s a move which will lower the Town’s interest rates and Mayor Jody McLeod said it’s “awesome news.”
“It reaffirms what I’ve known all along - that the Town of Clayton is being smart and careful with our spending and that fiscal policy is going to pay off nicely for taxpayers,” McLeod said.
Since 2009, the Town of Clayton has enjoyed climbing rankings from the major financial rating agencies.
Public Information Officer Stacy Beard said “These ratings are like credit scores for governments. Investors examine these ratings closely when towns sell bonds for municipal projects.
“The higher the rating, the less risk the investment. Less risky investments mean that towns can see lower interest rates.”
“Going forward, thanks to these solid ratings, large projects like developing new parks or making street improvements will be less expensive to finance for the Town and taxpayers,” Beard said.
Wilson’s Mills Police Arrest Pair On Felony Weapons Charges
Two Wayne County men were arrested by Wilson’s Mills Police during a traffic stop Saturday on US70.
A police officer stopped their vehicle for traveling 82mph in a 55mph zone, according to Police Chief David Hess. During the traffic stop an odor of marijuana was detected, police said. A Selma Police K-9 was brought to the scene and reportedly alerted on the car.
During a search of the 2000 Toyota Avalon, 7 grams of marijuana, a ski mask, red bandana, and a shotgun reported stolen last year from Wayne County was found in the vehicle, Chief Hess said.
Christopher Williams, 24, of US 70 West, Goldsboro, and Christopher Pride, 25, of Daisy Street, Goldsboro were both charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“This is great example of Johnston County law enforcement working together to get criminals off the street,” Chief Hess said. “Both of the people arrested have extensive criminal histories for weapon violations, drugs and robberies.”
According to court records, Pride was convicted in Wayne County in 2010 for feloniously discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and has two pending charges in Wayne County for possession of a firearm by felon.
William’s was convicted in Wayne County in 2012 for possession of firearm by felon. Hess added, “It is frustrating when we as law enforcement review criminal histories and see the types of violent crimes that were dismissed. When we arrest convicted felons with stolen guns, we know the community can rest peacefully.”
Both Pride and Williams were confined in the Johnston County Jail. Pride given a $155,000 bond. Williams was held under a $150,000 bond.
Lexi Liggins Crowned Little Miss Benson
A new Little Miss Benson has been crowned. Her name is Lexi Faith Liggins.
Her responsibilities will begin as she represents the Town of Benson during the upcoming Mule Days festivities during the fourth weekend in September.
The pageant took place Saturday night at the W.J. Barefoot Auditorium in Benson.
Winners included (left to right: Sarah Jon Adams -Sponsorship Award, Gracelyn Taylor - Second Runner Up, Lexi Faith Liggins - Winner, and Alyssa Newton - First Runner Up. WTSB Photo
School Board Restricts Access To Private School Students
In a 6-to-1 vote, the Johnston County Board of Education has approved a new policy this week regarding the use of educational services by students who are enrolled in Neuse Charter School, and other private schools or students that are home schooled.
School Board Member Donna White, who voted against the policy, objected to some of the language in the policy.
The policy was approved but will be referred back to the Policy Review Committee for minor changes and the amended policy will be re-submitted to the school board for approval.
As the number of students educated in non-traditional schools has increased, Deputy Superintendent Ross Renfrow told school board members, Johnston County Schools have received an increasing number of requests that these students be allowed to participate in specific courses.
The courses include science, band and foreign language. Dr. Renfrow also said non-traditional school students are also requesting to participate in extracurricular activities, usually athletics, without enrolling in the school full-time.
Dr. Renfrow said the school district’s position is that enrollment of any student in Johnston County Schools be on a full-time basis.
The only way a student at Neuse Charter or any private school can participate in activities in Johnston County Schools is with the approval of the school principal in the school district where they reside. Principals will decide grade and class placement based on documentation of curriculum courses already taken, or they can require testing to determine placement.
David Rouzer Becomes A Young Guns Vanguard
North Carolina Candidate Enrolled in Program for Candidates in Open GOP-Leaning Seats
Washington – The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced Thursday that David Rouzer has become a Young Guns Vanguard. The Vanguard program provides a framework for the NRCC to assist candidates running in Republican-leaning open seats as they head into the fall. It kicks off a working relationship between the NRCC and Vanguard candidates, as well as their future colleagues in the House Republican Conference, in advance of the election.
“David Rouzer will play an important role in increasing our House Republican majority,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “Rouzer’s dedication and experience positions him to advocate conservative policies and fight the failed Democrat status quo in Washington. David will stand in stark contrast to the Democrats’ record of passing costly and hurtful legislation, like ObamaCare.”
According to the NRCC release, David Rouzer grew up working the summers on his family’s farm in Johnston County just outside of Four Oaks. Here he learned the value of hard work, which laid the foundation for a very successful career in both the private and public sectors. David currently helps small businesses with marketing and business development through his consulting business. As a member of Congress, David will repeal and replace ObamaCare, reform the tax code and balance the budget.
David resides in the McGee’s Crossroads community in Johnson County. He is running for the Seventh Congressional District seat in the US House, which represents southeastern NC, including all of Johnston County.
Woman Arrested Following Disturbance Inside County Office Building
A woman who allegedly caused a disturbance inside the Johnston County Department of Social Services (DSS) Building Thursday afternoon is facing charges.
Around 5:25pm, Smithfield Police were called to the DSS Building on North Street after a woman who had gone there to receive services began shouting profanities at employees, according to Police Lt. R.K. Powell.
After officers arrived, they said Melody Marie Sanders, 24, of West Noble Street, Smithfield refused to calm down or cooperate.
While being arrested, police reportedly found a small amount of suspected marijuana in her possession.
Sanders was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct by abusive language.
She was released from custody on a $500 unsecured bond pending a December 18th court appearance, according to an arrest report.
Wayne Deputies Promoted
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office recently completed a promotional process that resulted in the promotion of two deputies into new positions.
Aaron M. Cantwell and Ryan M. Sasser were both promoted to patrol sergeants.
Both Cantwell and Sasser had been corporals on the patrol division.
Sgt. Cantwell and Sgt. Sasser have both been employed with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office since August 2000.
Over 5600 Pills Collected During Benson’s Operation Medicine Drop
On Wednesday, the Benson Police Department took part in an Operation Medicine Drop event held at the Benson Center for Active Aging, located at 1204 North Johnson Street.
Operation Medicine Drop is a program conducted by local law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with state and federal agencies, to reduce the amount of prescription, generic, and over-the-counter medications that are routinely being disposed of in landfills and sewer systems.
Medications are collected by the local law enforcement agencies, and then turned over to the NC State Bureau of Investigation for disposal by incineration, which is more environmentally friendly.
Officers from the Benson Police Department, with assistance from staff from the Benson Walgreen’s Pharmacy, collected prescription and non-prescription medications from the public for a five-hour period, and a total of 5654 pills were turned in. 17% of the total was over-the-counter medications, and the remaining 83% was expired or prescription medications that were no longer needed.
A nationwide Operation Medicine Drop is scheduled for September 27, 2014, but due to a scheduling conflict, Walgreen’s Pharmacy and the Police Department will be unable to participate. The public is encouraged to take their unneeded or unused medications to other participating law enforcement agencies on that date, or they may store them until the spring of 2015, when another Operation Medicine Drop is planned by the Benson Police Department.
Smithfield Seeking Public Comments On Electric Rates
The Smithfield Town Council has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday, September 16th at 6:00pm to discuss electric rates and get public input.
The meeting will be held in the Town Council Chambers located at 350 East Market Street in Smithfield.
After the public hearing, the Council will meet in a closed session.
Clayton High Football Stadium May Be Named Nixon-Fowler Stadium
Johnston County Schools are considering naming the Clayton High School football stadium Nixon-Fowler Stadium in honor of the Gary Fower and the late Glen Nixon.
Nixon spent his first two years of his 38-year career as teacher, coach and athletic director in Beulaville, NC before becoming head football coach and athletic director of Clayton High School in 1959.
Coach Nixon compiled a brilliant coaching record in football, rolling up an overall record of 203-95-4 and was perennial playoff contenders year after year. He left coaching in 1985 to become Johnston County School’s Athletic Director until his retirement in 1995.
Nixon died in 2012.
Fowler retired in 2012 as Clayton High School’s Athletic Director after 31 years at the school.
Fowler joined the Clayton High School staff in 1982 as a physical education teacher and defensive coordinator for the Nixon-led Comet football team. He also coached track and field and junior varsity basketball during those early years.
Fowler succeeded Nixon as football coach in 1985 and took over the athletic director post when Nixon took the job with the Johnston County Schools administration staff.
School board policy allows for the naming of school structures in honor of persons living or deceased who have attained prominence.
Clayton High School Principal Clint Eaves presented a letter to School Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom on behalf of the school’s Advisory Committee. The committee said it had heard from several parents, supporters and past players endorsing the request.
The school board will take the request under advisement for 60 days and may formally approve the name change at its November meeting.
Johnston Health Adds Internist To Local Practice
An internist has joined Dr. Nicole Collins in practice at Johnston Medical Associates—Internal Medicine in Smithfield. She began seeing patients this week.
Mai Trang Nguyen, M.D., of Cary, has 13 years of experience in treating chronic and acute illnesses. Before coming to Johnston Health, she was the director of Optimus Health Group in Raleigh, an internal medicine, primary and urgent care practice.
Dr. Nguyen is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. She completed an internal medicine residency and internship at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
Nguyen emphasizes preventive care and enjoys treating patients who have diabetes and other chronic illnesses. “It’s rewarding to see results,” she says.
She thinks that patients should be at the center of their treatment. “It’s important that they understand their disease process, their medications and how they can contribute toward optimizing their health."
Nguyen grew up in Vietnam where she says health care is a luxury. At a young age, she and her parents and siblings were able to escape from the communist country and to resettle in Boston with the help of a charitable organization.
After graduating from medical school, she took off a year to teach English at a refugee camp in the Philippines. Her mother had seen to it that her children learned English as a second language. By the time Nguyen arrived in Boston, she was able to communicate with and understand her teachers in school.
“I feel privileged to be able to provide care to the public,” she adds. “It’s very rewarding.”
In joining Johnston Health, she’s excited about growing the practice and working within the larger UNC Health Care family. She and her husband, Neil, live in Cary and have a 12-year-old.