FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday - June 8, 2004
GREENVILLE - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that JAMES EDWARD LEONARD, 55, of Plymouth, N. C., was sentenced in federal court in Greenville, N. C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2004. U. S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard imposed a sentence of 72 months imprisonment, to be followed by a supervised release term of five years.
LEONARD pled guilty on February 2, 2004, to conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. He was charged in a one-count Criminal Information filed by the United States Attorney's Office on January 15, 2004.
At the time of the offense during the summer of 2003, LEONARD was a deputy sheriff in Washington County, N. C. According to information presented to the Court during his plea hearing, LEONARD conspired with Albert Jean Stanley, now deceased, to purchase and distribute two kilograms of cocaine. The source of the cocaine was in fact a confidential informant. Prior to setting up the transaction, LEONARD accepted money to provide license tag information and criminal history information to the informant. LEONARD and Stanley also accepted money from the informant to protect illegal drug shipments from detection by other law enforcement officers. LEONARD was arrested on September 11, 2003 in Beaufort County, after he and Stanley took possession of the cocaine. He was immediately fired from his position with the Washington County Sheriff's Department. LEONARD has been held in custody since his plea hearing in February.
U. S. Attorney Whitney said, "We will not tolerate corruption at any level of public service. The prosecution of those who violate the public trust remains a district priority."
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U. S. Attorney John H. Bennett of the Greenville branch office is handling the case for the Government.