CHERRYVILLE, N.C. -- Four men—including three former law enforcement officers—accused of taking bribes to protect stolen goods plead guilty in a Gaston County court Thursday morning.
Casey Crawford and David Mauney, both former Cherryville Police Department officers, joined former Gaston County Sheriff's Deputy Wesley Golden and Mark Hoyle in pleading guilty to conspiracy.
In all, six men--four of them local law enforcement officers--were allegedly involved in the operation. The men are accused of helping transport thousands of dollars in stolen goods and cash across Gaston County.
FBI investigators arrived in Cherryville on October 17 to collect evidence and make the arrests. Undercover agents were used to bust the alleged corruption.
Officials claim Frankie Dellinger, Golden and Hoyle worked with undercover law enforcement agents in August to provide protection for tractor-trailers hauling stolen items like televisions, cars and generators across Gaston County. The men allegedly protected the items worth $158,000 as well as $400,000 in cash from the sale of the stolen goods.
Hoyle also pleaded guilty to money laundering and faces a 40-year maximum prison sentence. The other three men who plead guilty each face 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Hoyle was the most talkative in court and actually thanked the FBI.
“Special Agent Davis and the other agents, I appreciate them being fair with me,” he said.
In May of 2012, Crawford, Mauney and Hendricks provided protection for truckloads of stolen items like TVs and chainsaws worth more than $300,000, the second indictment claims, the indictment stated. Cash in the trucks totaled more than $300,000 as well.
Former Cherryville Police Department officer Dellinger and John Hendricks did not plea Thursday and it's unknown if they plan to go to trial.
The corruption scandal rocked the town of Cherryville.
“It’s been an extremely hard year all the way around--financial investigation to now this investigation with the F.B.I. It’s been a tough year on the City of Cherryville,” said Brian Dalton, Mayor Pro Tem.