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Ex-Cumberland deputy pleads guilty to fraud

Posted December 15, 2010

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— A former Cumberland County deputy pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud for falsifying his time sheets, authorities said Wednesday.

Neelis Smith, 48, was placed on two years of unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to one count of obtaining property by false pretense. Smith, who was fired from the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office in March 2008, had been indicted on 60 fraud charges, but the other charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Smith entered an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to plead guilty while still maintaining his innocence. Under the plea, Smith admitted it was in his best interest to take the plea deal because there was sufficient evidence to find him guilty.

Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler fired Smith and LaRue Windham after an internal investigation determined that they worked off-duty jobs during periods when they were supposed to be working their shifts for the sheriff's office.

Windham hasn't been criminally charged in the case.

After the double-dipping came to light, an auditor reviewed more than 5,000 time sheets with 69,000 entries, covering the activities of 192 Cumberland County deputies from January 2007 to February 2008.

The records of four other deputies were turned over to prosecutors, but no criminal charges were filed against them.


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  • Sherlock Dec 16, 2010

    How about that women who did pay her taxes and tried to rip the state off, she got jail time, fine, house arrest etc. To bad she did not work for Moose she would have gotten off.

  • Journey985 Dec 16, 2010

    Funny how I can post a comment voiceing my OPINION on the actual story while there are those of you out there that care to only comment on what I have to say and ignore the fact that yet ANOTHER LEO has been caught. These officers have to learn that they are NOT above the law and they will eventually be caught. Thank you dwr1964 and Ariborne for having the common sense to see that!

  • dwr1964 Dec 15, 2010

    The whole problem with this situation is that as long as those in a position of authority are performing criminal acts, those who follow, will also perform criminal acts. Also as long as we allow those criminals to go free on very light punishments, the only thing they learn is that it doesn't hurt them to the point of not wanting to do it again. It starts at birth and goes from there. Children who these days, cannot be spanked because it is considered child abuse, learn that they can do anything they want without the possibility of getting too bad of a punishment. I myself, have spanked, and handed out several punishments to my daughter that you bleeding heart nuckleheads would have me put in jail for. The difference is that my daughter is now an upstanding citizen with 2 children of her own, who also get punishments that fit the crime. Until all parents do this, nothing will change.

  • demo7691 Dec 15, 2010

    Give him a $1000 fine and no probation just like Easley got

  • dwr1964 Dec 15, 2010

    Seperated at a crowded mall. Not a real good scenario to use because I would call her cell phone, but if she needed a cop, yes I would suggest to her, that would be the best option, and I would pray to God that the officer WAS one of the good ones. I would also, and have, told her many times over, to be suspicious of anyone, cop or not, because you just never know. So to answer your question, NO, I would not have an increased level of trust simply because it is someone in uniform. Also, I would never, and have never "lost" my child in any situation, ever. See, I am a parent who acts like a parent. I know where my daughter is every minute of every day.My choice to have that option, but she cannot hide from me, ever. I know within inches, at all times, where she is. As for your estimate of 99.8% of all cops are good cops....You have a lot to learn.

  • airbornemonty Dec 15, 2010

    These LEO's had everything going for them and greed made them throw it away.

    It makes me wonder where the deputy was when I called for help and he arrived at my house forty five minutes after I called which made him forty minutes too late. What was he doing, did he have to leave the double dip and just couldn't get away?

    This are the things that come to my mind everytime that I see a deputy now and I wonder will he come to my aid if I need him or will he he too busy at his second double dip to help.

    I suppose that I will have to take care of the problem myself and worry about the consequences later...so sad.

  • thepeopleschamp Dec 15, 2010

    "I will never give 100% of my trust to someone I have never met." dwr1964

    Suppose you have a daughter and you take her to a crowded mall, what would you tell her to do in case you get separated? Run from the police? I suspect in that situation your trust level would increase.

  • thepeopleschamp Dec 15, 2010

    "Give me a good explaination as to how I can tell if a cop is good or bad." dwr1964

    So all you want me to do is foresee the future of what a person might do? Is that all? Do the math, 20 officers (the number you suggested) that did wrong, there are several thousands of officers in NC. Odds are in favor that most do their job with no issues. The other 99+% would be the honest ones. All you are focused on are the ones that wral puts in the spotlight. Got any more "gotcha" questions you'd like to try?

  • dwr1964 Dec 15, 2010

    OK then anitov...then tell me just how it is that I can know which of these officers is going to be the honest ones and which are the bad guys. Obviously, you can't tell by looking at them, and I will never give 100% of my trust to someone I have never met. And those 20 plus cops, those are just the ones that got caught. Even in this article it states that there were more involved in this investigation alone, who have not yet been formally charged. So there it is. Give me a good explaination as to how I can tell if a cop is good or bad.

  • thepeopleschamp Dec 15, 2010

    "Have you been reading the same papers and watching the same newscast as the rest of us? Just in the last 3 months, more than 20 LEO's in NC have either been fired, suspended, resigned, or come under scrutiny." dwr1964

    And there is your problem, all you go by is what the news tells you. 20 out several thousand. There is no job where all of the humans who work there are perfect and never will be. What you and your friend journey are blind to is that the actions of those 20 officers do not reflect the characteristics and morals of the other 99.8%, despite what wral spoon feeds you.