Local News

Former Spring Lake officer pleads guilty to embezzlement

Posted April 9, 2010 3:25 p.m. EDT

— One of two Spring Lake police officers indicted last year during a state investigation that roiled the police department and the town pleaded guilty Friday to embezzlement.

Alphonzo Devonne Whittington Jr. also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of obstruction of justice and failure to discharge his official duties. He was sentenced to 16 to 20 months in prison on the embezzlement charge and 45-day sentences on the other charges.

Whittington, a sergeant who had been with the Spring Lake Police Department for four years, stole $2,900 from the evidence room and altered records to cover up the theft.

The money was part of an undercover sting by the State Bureau of Investigation, which was looking into possible corruption in the department.

The indictment of Whittington and Darryl Eugene Coulter Sr., another former police sergeant, prompted Cumberland County deputies to assume control of law enforcement in Spring Lake.

Former Police Chief A.C. Brown resigned the day after their arrests, and reports that he and another officer were shredding files in the department prompted a judge to order the SBI to take control of all Spring Lake Police Department files.

Town officials hired former Red Springs Police Chief Troy McDuffie in December, and Spring Lake officers returned to patrolling the streets in February.

Coulter still faces charges that he participated in an April 2008 home invasion in which three men were held at gunpoint and that he asked subordinate officers to falsify a report about a September 2008 raid on a motel room. The raid was part of the SBI sting.