Local News

Ex-sheriff, deputy charged with stealing drug-buy money

Posted March 12, 2010 10:58 a.m. EST

A former Carteret County sheriff and a deputy have been charged in connection with the theft of money used for undercover drug buys, federal authorities said.

Ralph Thomas, 60, of Beaufort, and Christopher Cozart, 35, of Morehead City, were charged Monday with criminal conspiracy.

Thomas was sheriff of Carteret County from 1986 to 2006, while Cozart was a detective in the drug unit from 2002 to 2007.

Federal authorities allege that they took at least $5,000 from the fund that deputies used to buy for drugs during undercover investigations. The alleged thefts occurred between 1997 and 2006, authorities said.

They used checks drawn on official accounts maintained by the sheriff’s office and kept portions of the cash for their own personal use, authorities said.

“It is inappropriate for elected officials and those in positions of public trust to use funds for their own personal gain. This is a breach of the public trust," U.S. Attorney George Holding said in a statement.