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Johnston County attorney, under fire, is missing

Posted July 22, 2009

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— A Johnston County attorney facing his own legal battle is missing, Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Wednesday.

Chad Lee, 32, of 3751 U.S. Highway 301 South in Smithfield, was last seen on June 25 driving a tan 1999 Toyota Tacoma with N.C. license plate PRF-6194. Lee's father and brother met with Bizzell Tuesday to file the missing person's report.

Smithfield neighbors have not seen Chad Lee Smithfield neighbors have not seen Chad Lee

Lee, along with five others was indicted in March on charges that he altered court records and knowingly used illegal dismissal forms to get traffic cases against 37 people dropped.

A source told WRAL News that Cyndi Jaeger, a former Johnston County assistant district attorney, gave at least one blank dismissal form to a defense attorney. The majority of the defendants who saw their cases dismissed were clients of Lee, a former Johnston County prosecutor.

The indictments show that 70 dismissal forms with Jaeger's signature were filed after she left her job in September 2007.  Jaeger is charged with 81 misdemeanor counts of failure to perform duty of office.

Bizzell said Wednesday deputies were following leads and investigating places Lee was known to frequent. Neighbors said he has been laying low since his brush with the wrong side of the law.

"I know it's been embarrassing and a blow to the family," said local store owner Phil Wilkins.  

“We didn't even see him the beginning of June,” neighbor Dawn Fall said.

Craig and Dawn Fall have lived next door to Lee for about four years. Until Lee was reported missing by his family, they said they didn't think it was unusual that he hadn’t been seen.

“I’ve noticed, he hasn't been over there, but he would go away for a week or two from time to time,” Craig Fall said.

Former deputy court clerk Portia Snead and defense lawyers Lee Hatch, Vann Sauls and Jack McLamb face the same charges as Lee.

District Attorney Susan Doyle asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the high rate of dismissed drunken-driving cases in the county after a tracking system found several discrepancies in cases that were scheduled for trial but had been dismissed months earlier, she said.

A WRAL News investigation found that 46 percent of the DWI charges filed in Johnston County in 2006 were dismissed, compared with 21 percent statewide and 20 percent in neighboring Wake County.

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  • 2SWEETBOYS Jul 23, 2009

    From what I hear, Chad is an overall great guy.....I hope he returns safely to his friends and family.....but if someone told me I might have to spend a few years in prison....I'm sure I would "run" too......to a island....with my toes in the water...and my A...in the sand! Praying the outcome will be just that......that Chad is taking a "break".....

  • injameswetrust2003 Jul 22, 2009

    geez, how many government employees are criminals!!!

  • slick rick da troll whisperer Jul 22, 2009

    if i had to guess, he's not really missing. i am thinking that he probably just misplaced himself.

  • Kilroy Jul 22, 2009

    "Don't mistake driving a nice, new car for being rich. Many rich people choose not to waste money on an item that depreciates in value from the moment you purchase it."

    I agree!! That is why I drive an 18 year old car. Let's see JS1969, ($350-$400 per month car payment x 18 years=$$$$$ saved) and I am not a lawyer to figure that out.

  • amera06 Jul 22, 2009

    My family Loves Chad Lee and his family, and it is amazing to me that all you people can do is sit around and measure his worth by the type and year of the truck that he drives. Chad to my family is worth billions of dollars and we have been going through hell worrying about him returning to us safely. The news is made to make people think the worst about people, and half of what is being said is not the truth anyway; also what happened to being innocent until prooven guilty. Sometimes in life the choices that we make come back and bite us, but not everyone's choices are blowen-up in the media and put out there for all to judge, unfortunately Chad's issue's were put out for all to know. Remember that God is the only judge and like you are judging Chad you too will be judged in the end.We love you Chad! You and your family are in our prayers, and for all of those people who want to put their two cents in: what goes around comes around. WE LOVE YOU CHAD XOXO JOE & AMY MURRAY

  • Go Figure Jul 22, 2009

    I wanna know where the rest of his partners in crime (the Motley looking crew of them all) are?

  • Professor Jul 22, 2009

    He is not missing. The heat was so hot on him that more than likely he is now on an island or mexico in hiding.

  • angora2 Jul 22, 2009

    Einventor, you make me chuckle. It's those darn thieving, corrupt LEOs you despise who catch crooks. Listen to yourself!

  • Iworkforaliving Jul 22, 2009

    Some people are smart enough to know that you don't have to always drive a "NEW" car. I would prefer to spend money on other things than flush it down the toilet on a new car every other year. But some yuppies feel they must. I've spent less than 10k on my transportation over the past 20 years and have always had a reliable air conditioned vehicle to ride in.

  • leo-nc Jul 22, 2009

    "Catch this thief and send him straight to jail."----

    Gee, and who are you going to get to do that? Yep, the very people you despise. LEO's. Go figure.

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