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Man Who Helped Sheriff's Deputies Bury Drugs Charged With Stealing Some Of Stash

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PITTSBORO, N.C. — A man who helped sheriff's deputies bury two tonsof marijuana in Chatham County has been charged with stealing some of the stash.

Jodie Mitchell Brafford turned himself in to federal authoritiesTuesday, along with two others charged in the September 2000theft. The 31-year-old Brafford, who worked for the Public Works Department for six years, is charged with distributing about80 pounds of marijuana.

"We are always surprised to a point when people we know are alleged to be involved with that sort of activity," county manager Charlie Horne said.

Chatham County Sheriff Ike Gray said the arrests have been a long time coming.

"I'm sure the FBI has done their thorough job. At least, we are seeing some closure to what is going on, and we are anxiously waiting to see what else comes," he said.

Two other men -- James Benjamin Harris and Gary Leslie Causey of Snow Camp -- were charged with conspiring to sell more than 110 pounds of the drug.

All of the men have been released on a $10,000 bond. The indictments are the first in connection with the 18-month-old drug case. Officials said more indictments may be on the way.

The theft is likely to be a campaign issuein the county's hotly contested sheriff's race this year.

The FBI has been investigating the theft of five thousand poundsof marijuana from the sheriff's office. Three thousand pounds weretaken from a truck parked behind the department and the rest from a shallow pit at the county landfill.

The drugs had been seized in February 2000 during an undercoversting near Siler City.