State News

Ex-Robeson Deputy Sentenced to 20+ Years

Posted October 17, 2007

— The first of 20 former law officers to be sentenced as part of a nearly five-year state and federal investigation into corruption at the Robeson County Sheriff's Office will spend more than 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of slightly more than eight years for former Robeson County Deputy Patrick Ferguson because he had cooperated with investigators. Defense lawyers sought a sentence of five years in prison for his guilty plea related to the kidnapping and attempted robbery of two drug dealers.

Ferguson's lawyer, Robert Nunley, of Raleigh, asked the court for mercy and said his client had cooperated fully with investigators and has three children ages 4, 6 and 7. Ferguson, who apologized to the court and his family, also has no money and no vehicle, Nunley said.

"He tried to right the wrongs that he participated in," Nunley said.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle said that because Ferguson was a law officer he should have known better.

Boyle said a minimum sentence under federal guidelines called for a sentence of at least 255 months – just over 21 years.

Te judge on Tuesday sentenced Ferguson to 130 months for conspiring to kidnap two Virginia drug dealers and trying to rob them, and 120 months for using a gun during that felony.

Ferguson was also fined $20,000 and sentenced to five years of supervised probation when he is released.

"His conduct is about as egregious as can be conceived in a society that depends on the rule of law ... and for the law itself," Boyle said. "I'm sorry for you, but you had those choices all the way through."

Before the sentencing, Mark Francisco, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, provided information on Ferguson's involvement in the case called Operation Tarnished Badge. Boyle asked him to return to the stand and provide more detail to show the extent of the case.

Francisco said before the SBI began focusing on Ferguson, authorities were only aware of three instances in which Ferguson and others had robbed and sometimes beaten or kidnapped drug dealers.

Through the probe of Ferguson, Francisco said investigators learned of 26 more crimes Ferguson took part in, beginning in 2002.

They started with him robbing a drug dealer that had just left the home of Ferguson's cousin, a convicted felon. He said Ferguson turned on his blue lights and pulled over the dealer who fled. The agent said his cousin, James "Bo" Black, took money from the car and split it with Ferguson. He said Ferguson was having financial problems at the time.

Francisco said the crimes continued, becoming more brazen.

Black received 250 months in prison and 5 years of supervised probation in connection with the case.

Three more cases were continued to a later date, including that of Vincent Sinclair.

During, what attorneys called an unprecedented move, Sinclair addressed Boyle for more than an hour about how he was being treated unfairly by investigators with whom he cooperated in the case.

"I've worked with the government, and I've done what they asked," he said. "Yet, I'm treated the worst."

Sinclair admitted to some wrongdoing and that he should be punished but said he was not guilty of what he is charged with.

"I am totally disgusted with myself. I am totally disgusted with myself – with the embarrassments it's put on me and my family," he said.


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  • enoughsaid Oct 18, 2007


  • whatusay Oct 18, 2007

    I assume the drugs dealer got immunity for his cooperation in this case.

  • mommy2caroline Oct 18, 2007

    I do think he needs punishment for his actions but time and again I see drug dealers get 6 months of time and they are out there doing the same thing again. It's nothing for them but 3 hots and a cot. I'd LOVE to see the day when a drug dealer actually got 20 years.
    I wonder if since he's a former deputy if he'll go into special population. You know prisoners just love some old law enforcement officers!

  • NCMOMof3 Oct 17, 2007

    yeahright, I'm with you. I don't understand. 20 years/1 year. Drug dealers/blowing up building and killing sherrif. I agree police officers need to be held to a higher standard because of their jobs and the public trust placed in them but the punishment shoudl fit the crime and I don't see how 20 years and 1 year is justice.

  • yukonjohn3 Oct 17, 2007

    If drugs were legal tomorrow, the prices would plummet. With the money taken out of them, there would be NO competition to get them from the ABC store at HUGELY reduced prices, plus the state could get their cut. There would be no reason to have people stealing and murdering for drugs, and the people that were destined to die from drugs would have a hasty trip. Once that is accomplished, there would be the need to enforcement like for drunk driving, but that is not a huge obsticle. We live in a state that allows drugs to a point. Our constitution says our right to privacy outweighs the police's right to burst in our door for drugs. That also has another benefit, we have a FANTASTIC relationship with our law enforcement. Our state troopers, God Bless them, are our friends and protect and serve the people of the Great State of Alaska. America really should explore this option to end our war on drugs.

  • yeahright2 Oct 17, 2007

    YukonJohn - If it were only that easy. Gangs will find new illegal activity and there will still be violence. And let's not forget all the junkies that will not be working because they are so strung out. Now they will have to steal to get the money for their legal drugs. Of course you will have a black market for stolen drugs at discount rates. Solve one problem create new ones.

  • yukonjohn3 Oct 17, 2007

    This whole dept is a victim of the war on drugs. Legalize drugs and stories like this go away, the first day! The only problem we would possibly would be the revolt by the South American drug lords that HAVE to have drugs remain illegal. Imagine an America without gang violence, violent crime for the most part, all by legalizing drugs.

  • bronzegoddess40 Oct 17, 2007

    yeahright2=yes I do and should be here posting their outrage.

  • blackdog Oct 17, 2007

    ...question authority....

  • gopanthers Oct 17, 2007

    yeahright2 - we're on the same path. You beat me to the punch. We must be on the same page because you just posted my thoughts word for word.