WRAL Investigates

Arrest warrant database helped capture dangerous driver

Posted August 17, 2010
Updated October 25, 2010

— Johnston County authorities are crediting a statewide arrest warrant database for helping them take a dangerous driver off the road.

Selma police Officer Jeffrey Bass said he was running a checkpoint in April when he stopped a driver who identified herself as “Gay Hollowell” from Florida.

“Nothing on her vehicle checked out right,” Bass said, adding that he had a gut feeling she was lying. The woman finally identified herself as Penny Seagroves.

“I kinda understand why she lied about her name,” Bass said.

Using the NCAWARE system, (North Carolina Arrest Warrant Repository), Bass found that Seagroves had 31 arrest warrants in seven counties – Wake, Durham, Granville, Franklin, Edgecombe, Nash and New Hanover. All are part of NCAWARE.

“When I saw 31 warrants for order for arrest from all those different counties, I was like, well, I just couldn’t believe there was that many warrants,” he said. “And the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Pfft, there’s no need for me to even bond out. I might as well stay in there until I have all my court dates.’”

NC AWARE helped capture dangerous driver NC AWARE helped capture dangerous driver

Five of Seagroves’ warrants were for drunken driving in four different counties. The other warrants included numerous driving infractions and a handful of worthless checks. She was routinely released with a promise to appear in court, but kept moving to avoid getting caught, police said.

The false name she gave Bass was also part of her plan to avoid prison, according to authorities. The Department of Correction lists several other aliases she has used over the years – aliases that now link up on NCAWARE.

Johnston was the first county in the state to use the NCAWARE system, which allows officers from across the state to search for un-served warrants in other counties. The system debuted in June 2008. Since then, the court system has slowly rolled out the program. About 20 counties are not included.

Greg Stahl, senior deputy director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, has tracked NCAWARE’s progress from the beginning.

“We think it’s a significant step forward, because it’s the first time two parts of criminal justice are sharing a database,” he said.

Since it began, NCAWARE has helped serve more than 363,000 warrants.

Since the traffic stop in April, Seagroves has been convicted on all five outstanding DWIs. She's serving three years at Fountain Correctional Center for Women in Rocky Mount and will be there until next July.

25 Comments

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  • rlee1117 Aug 19, 10:04 a.m.

    it should be automatic in these stops to check for all warrants and process on every driver!! then maybe these people would get the message that you cant get away with this. tell me why police officers are no doing this on every stop? i bet people would take note fast before breaking our laws then

  • smalldogsrule Aug 18, 7:23 p.m.

    jaecee452- Not discounting what you may have found on a website, but let me ask you this: Why is it that I have officers and deputies bringing people to me (on a regular basis) for processing and fingerprinting that have WFA's and OFA's that date back as far as 1982? I've seen lots of stuff from the late 80's and the 90's. All of them from the NCAWARE system. Curious? I guess I'm not really seeing these things, I must be hallucinating.

  • anonemoose Aug 18, 7:10 p.m.

    gvmtcheeseater, too bad you don't know what your talking about. You haven't lost one bit of freedom. As for the other 20 counties, they will be brought online soon. It takes time to get each county trained. You have to have classes for the officers, then 3-5 days of hands on training for the clerks and Magistrates. This is fairly labor intensive endeavor. As far as old files, they were automatically converted during the process. Each county should have a process for notifying either the COC or DA of the unservable ones and they will be dismissed and deleted.

  • jaecee452 Aug 18, 6:11 p.m.

    smalldogsrule:NCAWARE is a fabulous system. It holds records as far back as 1982. That's why I tell people, If you ever skipped a court date between now and 1982, you better remember and go get it worked out, because you will eventually get caught.

    The system only processed warrants from 2000 and forward, not 1982.

    As each county implements NCAWARE, their unserved criminal summons, warrants and orders for arrest information in ACIS (Automated Criminal Infraction System) for the year 2000 and forward will be converted. nccourts.org

  • lvhv2003 Aug 18, 10:23 a.m.

    The problem is that many of the original arresting officers are no longer available to testify in these older cases brought up by the NC AWARE system. I see DWI cases, where the defendant is found after many years on the run, get dismissed all the time because the officers are no longer on the force. It is good to see the criminals caught, but terrible to watch the catch and release system still at work.

  • gvmntcheese Aug 18, 10:12 a.m.

    In response to you people who care not for your rights or civil liberties, our late Ben Franklin said it best, I hope you take these words to heart. "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." At the end of the day, that is what is happening here and we will lose it all if we are not mindful to that fact!

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Aug 18, 9:44 a.m.

    at 'a boy Roy, it's all about you baby.

  • jim22 Aug 18, 9:26 a.m.

    Good work Selma PD! She needed to go to jail and face the music.

  • jbco Aug 18, 9:26 a.m.

    Checkpoints are not an "exception" to our Fourth Amendment rights. I love when people who have never actually read the Bill of Rights try to tell people what it says. We do have rights but those rights are not unlimited. Driving a car on a public road is a privilege. Just like the state has the right to make builders get permits or a bar can check your ID as you enter, there are some responsibilities that come with driving on the road with everyone else. And the state has the right to make sure you are keeping with those responsibilities by having a valid license, having your car registered, and not being impaired. If you don't like it, you are more than free to ride the bus, take a cab, ride a bike, or walk. But if you chose to drive on publicly maintained roads with the public, you have to abide by some rules. And law enforcement is charged with enforcing those rules. The Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that checkpoints, if done correctly, are perfectly legal.

  • sonicbluezx3 Aug 18, 9:26 a.m.

    I wonder what they do if an illegal goes to the checkpoint....

    I don't see how a checkpoint is illegal... and I definitely don't have a problem with them. I have my ID on me at all times and I don't ever drive drunk... I have nothing to hide, so I don't mind if they check to make sure. The more criminals they catch the better.

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