Local News

Raleigh law enforcement executive indicted on 15 charges

Posted April 4, 2016 6:04 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2016 10:58 p.m. EDT

— An executive with a private law enforcement agency that serves companies in Raleigh was indicted Monday on more than a dozen charges related to four arrests during the past year.

An indictment from a Wake County grand jury states that Joseph Michael Conover, a chief with the Nova Agency Company Police Department, overstepped his authority when making the four arrests.

"Law enforcement officers are not above the law," said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman."He is a law enforcement officer and so what we have been investigating as set forth in these indictments are violations of constitutional rights."

Freeman explained that employees of private law enforcement agencies are real law enforcement officers, as the businesses are certified through the Attorney General's Office.

"Under the general statutes of North Carolina, someone can form a company police program or company police business as long as they meet all the same qualifications as any other law enforcement officer," Freeman said. "Then they have all the ame authority as any other law enforcement officer for the property on which they have jurisdiction."

Freeman said the properties over which the private officers have jurisdiction are typically malls, apartment complexes or hospitals. It was unclear where Conover worked at the time the incidents took place.

The indictment states that Conover feloniously obstructed justice while acting as a sworn law enforcement officer on July 13 by providing false and misleading information to begin and further the criminal prosecution of Ernest Lamont Yarborough.

Yarborough, 44, of 3821 Brentwood Road in Raleigh, was charged with communicating threats, resisting a public officer, and disorderly conduct.

The indictment said that Conover also violated Yarborough’s rights by arresting him and electrically shocking him with a Taser “without legal excuse or justification” on the same date.

On July 30, Conover kidnapped Kasey Yount Randleman by “unlawfully confining and restraining him without his consent and for the purpose of terrorizing” him, the indictment states.

Randleman, 28, of 2716 Moorsfield Court in Raleigh, was charged with resisting a public officer.

The warrant states that Conover assaulted Randleman by pepper spraying him and rubbing his face with a pepper-sprayed shirt and violated his rights by arresting him.

The indictment said Conover obstructed justice on Dec. 28 by providing false and misleading information to further the criminal prosecution of Joshua Antwon Davis. Conover assaulted Davis by shocking him with a Taser and violated his rights by arresting him, the indictment said.

Davis, 30, of 1625 Brown Owl Drive in Raleigh, was charged with resisting a public officer, communicating threats and assaulting a campus police officer.

Jurors determined that Conover obstructed justice on Jan. 14 by providing false and misleading information to further the prosecution of Meredith Delyn Cromartie Jr. and violated his rights by assaulting and arresting him.

Cromartie, 23, of Raleigh, was charged with injury to personal property, fleeing to elude arrest with a motor vehicle, and resisting a public officer.

In connection with the incidents, Conover, 38, of 2021 Copperleaf Parkway in Durham, was indicted on four counts each of felony obstruction of justice, willful failure to dispatch duties and simple assault and one count of second-degree kidnapping.

In addition to the charges stemming from the arrests, Conover was also indicted on two counts of felony access of a government computer system in connection with an April 19 incident.

The indictment states that Conover twice accessed the North Carolina division of criminal information network to obtain identifying information for the owners of three vehicles.

Conover was being held at the Wake County Detention Center Monday night under a $2 million bond.

According to Raleigh Public Record, Conover spoke at a Raleigh City Council meeting on Jan. 25 to discuss issues his officers had with the Raleigh Police Department.

Conover alleged that Raleigh police had interfered with arrests that his officers attempted to make within their jurisdiction and that Raleigh police failed to come to the assistance of Nova’s officers on multiple occasions.

Conover told council members that, after a meeting with Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown, she had her staff contact the Wake County District Attorney’s Office to open an investigation into the security business and attempted to have their certifications pulled.

Conover also requested that the council instruct Raleigh police officers to abstain from referring to Nova officers as “idiots” or “rent-a-cops” and to stop interfering in investigations.

Nova had been suspended as of Monday night.