Two former Highway Patrol troopers arrested over ticket irregularities
Posted October 23, 2019 2:23 p.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2019 10:47 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Two former State Highway Patrol troopers were arrested Wednesday after an investigation into ticket irregularities in Harnett County.
Jason Benson is charged with five felony counts of obstruction of justice, five misdemeanor counts of failure to discharge his duties and five misdemeanor counts of making a false return of process. Christopher Carter faces two counts on each of the same charges.
Benson and Carter surrendered to State Bureau of Investigation agents at the Harnett County Detention Center. Both men have been released on bond and make their initial court appearances on Thursday morning.
“The actions of these two former troopers, as substantiated by our internal investigation, is inconsistent with the ethical and organizational values of the Highway Patrol and does not reflect the high standard of conduct to which all SHP employees are held accountable," patrol commander Col. Glenn McNeill said in a statement.
A Highway Patrol supervisor first learned of possible irregularities during a weekly citations review in June. At issue was whether the troopers had written an excessive number of tickets to the same drivers.
Benson, a nine-year veteran assigned to Troop B in Harnett County, "was separated" from the Highway Patrol in July. Carter, a five-year veteran assigned to Troop B, had been placed administrative duty pending the outcome of the internal investigation, but it was unclear when he left the patrol.
During the investigation, the SBI identified more than a dozen victims who had been issued citations or charges unbeknownst to them.
Willie Cain said Benson pulled him over several months ago for improper passing, and both he and his girlfriend received citations.
"I received, if I’m not mistaken, five or six, and her just as well," Cain said Wednesday.
Most of the citations stemmed from single-car accidents or abandoned vehicles, according to the SBI.
In some cases, the two troopers charged individuals and failed to serve the citation, and the victims didn’t know they had been charged, therefore they didn’t show up for their court date, officials said.
As a result, arrest warrants were issued for some while others had their driver’s licenses suspended.
"First and foremost, you took an oath and obligation, you know, as far as being a trooper, you know, to protect and serve, and that’s not something you do," Cain said of the charges against Benson and Carter.
It's still unknown as to why the extra citations were issued by the troopers.
"Make sure that you follow up with any charges you have online just so that way there’s nothing extra that was placed on you fictitiously," Cain said.
According to the SBI, the investigation is ongoing.