McCrory proposes tougher penalties for threatening, assaulting state officials
Posted May 19, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Reacting to the kidnapping of the father of a Wake County prosecutor, Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday proposed tougher penalties for those who provide cell phones to inmates and those who retaliate against or threaten state officials or their relatives.
"In light of the recent events involving family members of a prosecutor in Wake County, we feel it is necessary to broaden the degrees of punishment for these types of crimes,” McCrory said in a statement. “State officials should be able to fulfill their duties without fearing for their family's safety."
Frank Janssen, father of Wake County Assistant District Attorney Colleen Janssen, was kidnapped from his Wake Forest home in April in a plot investigators said was masterminded by Kelvin Melton, who is serving life in prison. Colleen Janssen prosecuted the case that put Melton behind bars.
Frank Janssen was rescued by a FBI Hostage Rescue Team in Atlanta five days later. Six people – Jenna Paulin Martin, 21; Tiana Maynard, 20; Jevante Price, 20; Michael Montreal Gooden, 21; Clifton James Roberts, 29; and Quantavious Thompson – face federal kidnapping charges, which carry maximum prison sentences of life without parole.
Investigators are still searching for Jakym "Jak" Camel Tibbs in connection with the kidnapping. The FBI is offering $25,000 for information leading to his arrest.
Providing an inmate with a cell phone, currently a Class 1 misdemeanor (60-150 days), would be upgraded to a Class F felony (10-41 months) under McCrory’s proposal.
- Retaliating against a government official, which would include family members under the proposal, would be a Class E felony (15-50 months) instead of a Class I felony (3-12 months)
- If an official is assaulted with a deadly weapon, it would be a Class D felony (38-160 months) instead of a Class F felony (10-41 months)
- If the official is seriously injured, it would be a Class C felony (44-182 months) instead of a Class F felony
- Threats to seriously harm or kill an official or their family would be a Class F felony instead of a Class I felony
A bill with the proposals will be filed in the General Assembly this week, McCrory’s office said.
“This is a focused, proportional response to the threats our court officials face in their service to the public as we just experienced with the Frank Janssen kidnapping,” Interim Wake County District Attorney Ned Mangum said in a statement. “This legislation recognizes the need for significant punishments for unlawfully bringing mobile phones into our prisons, and further targets those who choose to threaten or assault judges, public defenders, prosecutors and other officials in retaliation for their public service. I thank the governor for his willingness to address these important issues.”