Local Politics

Soles' acquaintance charged with burning home

Posted August 27, 2009 3:38 p.m. EDT

— State Bureau of Investigation agents on Thursday charged a Tabor City man with burning a house that state Sen. R.C. Soles helped buy.

Allen Wayne Strickland, 17, of 99 March Ave., was charged with fraudulent burning of a building and attempting to obtain property by false pretense. He was being held Thursday in the Columbus County Jail under a $100,000 secured bond.

A July 29 fire at Strickland's home attracted attention to Soles' relationship with young men in the area. Soles provided Strickland money to buy the 640-square-foot home and a Corvette in exchange for his promise to stay in school.

Two weeks after the fire, a Wilmington television station aired an interview with a man who said Soles tried to fondle him more than a decade ago and paid him $1,000 to keep quiet about the incident.

Stacy Scott, 27, recanted the allegation a few days later, saying he had taken drugs on the day he was interviewed and that his mother urged him to make the allegation. He couldn't remember why she did that.

The SBI has been investigating the sexual abuse allegation, and it also is looking into a Sunday shooting at Soles' home.

Soles, a longtime Tabor City lawyer, shot former client Kyle Blackburn, 22, in the leg during an altercation.

B.J. Wright, who went to Soles' home with Blackburn, told a second Wilmington television station that the shooting was in self-defense. Joe Cheshire, a Raleigh lawyer representing Soles, said the incident was recorded by security cameras.

No charges have been filed in the shooting.

Soles, 74, represents Columbus, Brunswick and Pender counties in the Senate. The Democrat is the longest-serving member of the General Assembly, having spent 32 years in the Senate and was in the House for eight years before that.