Lumberton, N.C. — A federal judge continued to hand out stiff sentences to Robeson County deputies, who were rounded up in a five-year investigation that has implicated 20 law-enforcement agents, including the former sheriff.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle gave the maximum recommended sentences to Paul Pittman and Billy Hunt of six months in prison and three years of supervised parole. Defense attorneys had argued for less jail time, because both men cooperated in Operation Tarnished Badge.
The former deputies were accused of doing personal and campaign work for then-Sheriff Glen Maynor while they were county employees. Maynor paid both Pittman and Smith $500, officials said.
Boyle rejected a recommended sentence for Joey Smith, saying it was too lenient. Smith has admitted to conspiring to misappropriate around $4,000 in federal drug-enforcement money.
His attorney agreed to rescheduled sentencing in order to prepare a response to Boyle's warning.
In October, Boyle gave a 21-year jail sentence to former deputy Patrick Ferguson for the kidnapping and attempted robbery of two drug dealers. Boyle overruled prosecutors' recommended sentence of slightly more than eight years.
Federal agents made Operation Tarnished Badge public in June after beginning it five years ago. So far, 20 Robeson County law-enforcement agents have been arrested for various offenses.
More serious charges against deputies included kidnapping and money laundering. Many of the deputies charged were involved with drug enforcement, and District Attorney Johnson Britt said he has dismissed between 200 and 300 drug cases because they were tainted.