Former Catawba County Director Of Utilities Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud Conspiracy For Accepting Bribes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte has indicted Erice Lemond Blyther, 46, of Hoffman, N.C., for smuggling a controlled substance at Lanesboro Correctional Institution while employed as a correctional officer. The indictment was unsealed today in federal court, following Blyther’s arrest by the FBI.
Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making the announcement.
According to charges contained in the federal indictment, Blyther worked as a correctional officer at the Lanesboro Correctional Institution (LCI), since renamed Anson Correctional Institution, a state prison located in Polkton, North Carolina. The LCI housed medium and close-security inmates and was one of the state’s largest prisons. As alleged in the indictment, as a correctional officer, Blyther’s duties included the supervision of inmates, and ensuring safe, secure and orderly prison operations. Inmates within the LCI were prohibited from possessing controlled substances and are permitted to use controlled substances only when prescribed by a medical professional and under the direct supervision of LCI staff. Correctional officers were also prohibited from accepting gifts from inmates, performing favors for inmates, or providing inmates with narcotic drugs or any other item forbidden by LCI rules.
According to the indictment, between August and September 2018, while employed at LCI as a correctional officer, Blyther accepted a bribe to smuggle a controlled substance into the LCI on behalf of an inmate housed at the facility. Blyther was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, and had his initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer.
Blyther is charged with use of interstate facility to facilitate bribery, which carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine; extortion under color of official right, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine; and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.
All charges in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Washington, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is in charge of the prosecution.