CHERRYVILLE, N.C. -- Six men, including four local law enforcement officers, were indicted on major corruption charges Wednesday in Gaston County. Though not indicted, the town of Cherryville also suspended Police Chief Woody Burgess and Captain Mike Allred, with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The six men are accused of helping transport thousands of dollars in stolen goods and cash across the county. Three of the men work with the Cherryville Police Department while one is a sheriff's deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff's Office.
FBI investigators arrived in Cherryville Wednesday to collect evidence and make the arrests.
The accusations are split among two different criminal indictments and federal officials say undercover agents were used to bust the alleged corruption.
Frankie Dellinger, 40, a Cherryville Police Department reserve officer, Wesley Clayton Golden, 39, a reserve deputy sheriff in Gaston County and Mark Ray Hoyle, 39, were each charged in the first indictment.
Officials claim the three men 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.
Dellinger, Golden and Hoyle were each charged with conspiracy to transport and/or receive stolen property, four counts each of transportation of stolen property, one count of conspiracy to extort under color of official right, one count of money laundering conspiracy, four counts of money laundering and aiding and abetting, and three counts of possession of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Dellinger faces one additional count of extortion under color of official right.
The second indictment charges Cherryville Police Department patrol officers Casey Justin Crawford, 32, and David Paul Mauney III, 23. John Ashley Hendricks, 47, of Cherryville was also charged.
In May of this year, the three men provided protection for truckloads of stolen items like TVs and chain saws worth more than $300,000, the second indictment claims. Cash in the trucks totaled more than $300,000 as well.
The Department of Justice report states “on multiple occasions, Dellinger, Golden, Crawford and Mauney used their credentials and legal authority to assist with the transfer or transport of stolen goods and/or cash proceeds from the sale of stolen goods, in exchange for monetary bribes. Hendricks’s role in the scheme was to assist Crawford and Mauney by conducting counter-surveillance. Hoyle assisted the conspiracy by representing himself as a law enforcement officer.”
Crawford, Mauney III and Hendricks were each charged with one count of conspiracy to transport and/or receive stolen property and one count of conspiracy to extort under color of official right. Crawford is also charged with one count of program fraud bribery in connection with his role in the conspiracy.
FBI officials were seen at both Cherryville City Hall at 116 South Mountain Street and the Cherryville Police Department at 704 East Church Street as well as a nearby home on Wednesday collecting evidence.
All six men were scheduled to appear Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Charlotte. Each man faces thousands of dollars in fines and several years of prison time if convicted.
Wednesday’s indictments come amid turmoil in Cherryville’s leadership.
Cherryville City Manager David Hodgkins resigned from his position in June after a separation agreement. His departure came while Cherryville was under fire for allegations of misusing finances.
Both the town clerk and finance director left their jobs in December 2011 after an internal audit showed a misuse of city credit cards, according to The Charlotte Observer. That money was reportedly repaid.
Jeff Cash has been serving as interim city manager while the city looks for a full-time replacement for Hodgkins.
Click here to read the full release from the Department of Justice. (PDF)