Local News

Ex-Trooper Indicted in Alleged Traffic Stop Incidents

Posted December 14, 2007
Updated December 15, 2007

— A state Highway Patrol trooper who resigned amid allegations of inappropriate behavior at a traffic stop was indicted earlier this week on a number of charges, including two counts of second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery.

Michael A. Steele, 28, of Pepperston Drive, Graham, was also indicted on charges of communicating threats, several counts of extortion and several counts of assaulting a female.

Calling Steele's alleged acts "brazen," Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said the former trooper targeted women he thought were Hispanic and in the country illegally so they would not report him.

"There was great concern, and frankly, almost disbelief that an officer on duty in a marked car, in uniform, would do something like that," Woodall said.

The charges are related to cases involving three women over a period of 10 days in August in which Steele allegedly made sexual advances toward them and threats, Woodall said. All three women basically told the same story, he said.

"He told one of the women that he wanted her to call him back on a designated day, and if she didn't, he would kill her husband and her children," the district attorney said.

According to the indictments, Steele allegedly threatened to turn another woman over to immigration authorities "with the intent wrongfully to obtain physical contact, through kissing and touching of her breasts."

Neither Steele, his attorney nor his wife had any comment on the charges.

A trooper since April 2004, Steele patrolled in Orange County from the Hillsborough substation. He left his post in September after accusations from Burlington attorney Ebher Rossi. Rossi said the trooper stopped a Hispanic couple in Carrboro and told the husband he would face immigration violations if he did not leave his wife behind and drive away from the stop.

Rossi claimed Steele then forced the woman into his patrol car "against her will," drove to a secluded area and then forced her to kiss him.

The State Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been investigating the case. Woodall said Steele has been uncooperative in the investigation.

He was out of jail Friday evening on a $250,000 secured bond that a judge reduced from $500,000. He must also surrender his passport and stay away from the alleged victims. His next court date is scheduled for Jan. 7.

Lt. Everett Clendenin, a spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, had no comment, saying Steele was no longer a member of the agency. He referred all questions to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Steele is among a number of state troopers who have come under fire in recent months for allegations of inappropriate conduct. Several resigned or were fired.


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  • rlt197131 Dec 16, 2007

    Hey, 3forme, If he was chasing your son at a high rate of speed, then I'd say, yeah, it was your son's fault. If he had just pulled over and obeyed the law..The chase, and wreck would'nt have happened..Id say the entire incident was your son's fault..Luckily your son didnt kill any innocent people..I guess that would've been the troopers fault too..

    I suppose its easier to blame other people than accept the responsibility for your own actions.

  • Bugsly Dec 16, 2007

    I guess Steele IS as dumb as he looks!

  • 3forme Dec 16, 2007

    several years ago my son got a ticket from a HP officer when according to witnesses and evidence at the scene the accident was caused by the officer who was chasing my son at a high rate of speed...total lossed our family car and 5000 damage to patrol car..son was charged with failure to reduce speed so our insurance had to pay for both vehicles...we had witnesses and evidence ready to go to court but as soon as the insurance paid for the patrol car the charges against my son were mysteriously dropped..we inquired why but no one could give us an answer..also heard many stories about this trooper harassing younger people..thank goodness he was transferred to another area...there are some bad ones out there but this is the only one i've had dealings with that had a bad attitude...keep up the good work...

  • CSMs Alter Ego Dec 16, 2007

    "I've never seen a State Trooper with much hair...lol...How'd he get by with all that hair anyways?"

    Maybe b/c he resigned over 3 months ago?

  • stephaniedawn66 Dec 15, 2007

    I've never seen a State Trooper with much hair...lol...How'd he get by with all that hair anyways?

  • rlt197131 Dec 15, 2007

    Lots of negative about the NCSHP..I know alot of them, and the majority are great guys..Seems like any chance to bad mouth them is jumped on by the media, and those who have gotten tickets by them, or were perhaps denied employment. The SHP is the hot item nowadays, Before that, it was Durham PD with the fighting, Before that it was Raleigh PD with the Off Duty work. Before that it was the Wake County Sheriffs Dept with the fight at Applebees. Its just their turn I guess.

    Oh, perhaps I missed it, but Im pretty sure that the Sergeant that was fired for DWI, Yeah, all charges were dismissed against him for a lack of evidence..Must've missed that story. Wonder if WRAL or the N & O will publish anything about that.

  • Evil one Dec 15, 2007

    This is what you get when standards are lowered in the holy name of "diversity"

  • imyourhuckleberry Dec 15, 2007

    Seems to me that NC has a lot of bad seeds in the 'trooper' department. What do troopers do besides pull people over? well other then commit heinous crimes? sad that he has been on the state's payroll all this time!

  • CSMs Alter Ego Dec 15, 2007

    "What's elite is that NC troopers work alone, far from assistance, and have set the standard in uniform, manner, and action for the whole country. They are courteous and helpful friends and protectors to us all on the road."

    So how is that different than any Sheriff's Deputy who pulls a car over in the county in the middle of the night with backup miles away? Or a city police officer who goes on a domestic by himself because everyone is busy?

    I don't have a problem with the HP, but I do have a problem with the "elite" mess. The Troopers in most other states actually investigate crimes as well as work the roads, like real cops. There is nothing elite about writing tickets and working wrecks, I don't care how snazzy the uniform is. I've had more than one Trooper say that they couldn't deal with the stuff that real cops have to deal with. The domestics, the constant disrespect, fights, disturbances, etc etc. And I could care less about pretty uniforms.

  • Beeyatcchh Dec 15, 2007

    He needs a haircut