Former Customs Employee Pleads Guilty To Auctioning Online A Customs Declaration Form Signed By A Celebrity
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A former North Carolina probation officer was sentenced on Thursday, April 25, 2013, in U.S. District Court to serve 17 months in prison for extortion and drug trafficking offenses involving persons under his supervision, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. James David Franklin, 46, of Lenoir, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison term.U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Director Gregory McLeod of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (NC SBI).
According to court documents and court proceedings, from April 2001 through July 2010, Franklin, was employed as a Surveillance Officer by the North Carolina Department of Correction’s Division of Community Corrections (DCC) and supervised probationers on intensive supervision in Burke and Caldwell Counties. According to filed documents, Franklin primarily conducted curfew checks and compliances searches and had arrest power over probationers and parolees. Court records indicate that from in or about July 2009 to in or about July 2010, Franklin used his position on multiple occasions to extort drugs from an individual who had been under Franklin’s supervision (“Probationer #2”). Specifically, court records show that Franklin, via text messages and other communications, repeatedly asked Probationer #2 to supply him with narcotics, including methamphetamine and hydrocodone.
Court records show that Franklin would arrange to retrieve the narcotics from Probationer #2’s driveway in exchange for cash. Law enforcement officers were alerted to Franklin’s conduct when Probationer #2 complained to his federal probation officer and to his primary North Carolina probation officer. Subsequently, Franklin was placed on desk duty. While on desk duty, Franklin sent a text message to Probationer #2 asking him to sell hydrocodone pills in exchange for a portion of the proceeds from the sale. Specifically, Franklin told Probationer #2 he would pay him “3 dollars a piece” for 125 hydrocodone pills. According to court records, Franklin was apprehended by law enforcement officers when he went to Probationer #2’s house to deliver the hydrocodone pills in exchange for $375 in cash.
In December 2011, Franklin pleaded guilty to one count of extortion under color of official right and one count of possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone.vWhen announcing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger noted that the sentence imposed was more than minimally required under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines because the defendant was “A person who by reason of his position had taken actions that undermine the integrity of the legal system.”
Franklin has been in custody since April 2011. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was handled by the FBI and SBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Savage of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.