Judge rejects prosecutors' sentencing for 2 ex-Robeson lawmen
Posted May 29, 2008 5:30 a.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2008 11:27 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A U.S. district judge on Thursday rejected plea deals for two former Robeson County lawmen caught up in a corruption probe and imposed the maximum penalty on a third.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle appeared disgusted when prosecutors presented an open plea deal that would have the former sheriff, Glenn Maynor, 61, sentenced to between 18 and 24 months in federal prison.
Maynor has pleaded guilty to two charges of lying to a grand jury and one of misapplying federal funds.
"It will be a bigger scandal if there is no punishment in this case than the lawlessness that went on," Boyle said.
Operation Tarnished Badge, a six-year-long investigation into the Robeson County Sheriff's Office, has led to charges against 22 officers. More serious charges include kidnapping, money laundering and burning houses during drug raids.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Bradsher argued that the investigation's success in kicking out those officers – and getting information from them – justified lighter sentences.
Boyle, however, said he would give tough sentences to Maynor, who was sheriff from 1994 to 2004, and two former deputies, C.T. Strickland and Roger Taylor, because of the example they set for Robeson law enforcement.
"Business as usual can come back into play, and this will just be a chapter or an episode in a long, tragic story," Boyle said.
Barbara Strickland, not related to the deputy, said Taylor and C.T. Strickland framed her husband on drug charges. She said Maynor should share blame for that.
"How did you have these many people that's been convicted and not know what's going on?" Barbara Strickland said.
When Boyle said he would raise Maynor's sentence to seven years, defense attorneys asked for a continuance. Boyle granted it – but threatened to give the former sheriff the maximum 10-year sentence his charges allow.
"If you got a lot of skeletons in your closet, you might want to take today's price," the judge said.
Earlier, Maynor's lawyers had filed a 12-page document, asking for leniency for their client due to his age, ill health and civic contributions. Nearly 30 character witnesses testified on his behalf.
C.T. Strickland and Taylor faced a long list of charges, including arson, assault, theft and money laundering. Both were supervisors, and Strickland oversaw the county's drug-enforcement squad.
Along with a third deputy, Steve Lovin, who is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, they are accused of stealing tens of thousands in money and drugs from alleged dealers they stopped along Interstate 95.
C.T. Strickland's lawyer argued that his "client's position here is one of knowledge, not of participation."
Boyle continued the sentencing for C.T. Strickland, saying he was frustrated that the government asked for a "modest 24-month sentencing" for an "outrageous crime."
Taylor read an apology and said he has turned his life around, volunteering after Hurricane Katrina and in Iraq.
"I've committed sins and crimes for which I'm not proud of," Taylor said. "I pray you have mercy upon me."
Taylor's lawyer argued that the 19-year-old deputy had simply followed a culture of corruption that pervaded the Robeson County Sheriff's Office.
"I reject that entire premise," Boyle said.
The judge accepted a plea deal, but sentenced Taylor to the maximum allowed by it: nearly four years in federal prison, three years of supervised probation and a $10,000 fine. He must report to prison by July 1.
Boyle did agree that a culture of corruption had existed in the sheriff's office and added that it emanated from the top.
"Like the judge said, they had the gun and the badge and the authority, and they abused it," Barbara Strickland said.