6 Charged in Federal Case

Police & Government

Murphy, NC— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced following a 2-year investigation 6 individuals were charged on federal indictments for the illegal possession and distribution of controlled substances in Cherokee County.

In early 2016 Detectives with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit received information regarding the Trafficking of Methamphetamine into Cherokee County from the Metro Atlanta Area. Detectives initiated an investigation into the source of the Methamphetamine being brought into Cherokee County. During the course of the investigation Detectives conducted numerous hours of surveillance, undercover purchases of Methamphetamine, multiple interviews and traffic stops resulting in multiple seizures of Methamphetamine. It was later determined during the course of the investigation that the contact for this source of Methamphetamine was an inmate in the Georgia Department of Corrections.

Detectives from the Cherokee County Narcotics Unit began a joint investigation with agents from the Georgia Department of Corrections, the GBI, FBI, DEA and the US Attorney’s Office.   As a result of that investigation six federal indictments were issued for Conspiracy to Sell and Deliver Methamphetamine and for the Sale and Delivery of Methamphetamine for the following persons:

Glen McTaggart (confined Georgia Prison)

Dale Hamilton Dutto (confined Georgia Prison)

Isaac Daniel Hughes (not yet arrested)

Carla Blair Lloyd (currently being held)

Candice Brooke Cole (currently being held)

James Donald Taylor (currently being held)

McTaggart and Dutto are currently incarcerated in the Georgia Department of Corrections, federal detainers have been issued for both. Taylor and Cole are currently being held in the Cherokee County Detention Center on other charges, federal detainers have been issued for both. Lloyd was taken into federal custody and is being held in the Cherokee County Detention Center for the US Marshals. Hughes is currently at large.

Sheriff Derrick Palmer stated “Again, these investigations are completed over night. This is a push in the right direction as we continue our war against drugs!”

To report suspicious activity and suspect violations of the law please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Murphy man charged with threats

Police & Government

MURPHY, N.C. — Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the March 13, 2018, arrest of 55-year-old Keith Charles Celebreeze Sr. of Murphy, North Carolina, in connection with making threats via social media and emails.

For the past several months, numerous threatening and demeaning emails and social media postings were sent to individuals of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office as well as individuals employed with the District Attorney’s office in Waynesville, North Carolina. The State Bureau of Investigation conducted an investigation and several charges were taken out on Celebreeze. At some point in the investigation, Celebreeze had failed to make a scheduled court appearance.

Celebreeze surrendered himself to the Cherokee County Detention Center for the following charges: FAILURE TO APPEAR ON MISDEMEANOR X 3, EXTORTION X 2, and INTIMIDATING WITNESS X 2. He has a $357,000 secure bond and has an April 3, 2018, District Court date.

Sheriff Palmer stated, “We should remember, with the right of free speech, we have a responsibility not to infringe on the rights of others, and we will hold you accountable.”

Sheriff Palmer asks if you should have any information concerning this case or any other case to report suspicious activity and suspected violations of the law, please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Sex Offender Charged For Living too Close to School

Police & Government

Murphy, NC— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced that March 15th, 2018 arrest of 37 year old Adrian Montez Austin, of Andrews North Carolina for violations of the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry.

On March 1st of this year a complaint was made with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office that Austin had established a residence the complainant felt was too close to the High School in Andrews North Carolina.

Deputies with the Patrol Division and Investigations Division worked together and were able to obtain evidence that Austin had established a residence approximately 290 feet from the Andrews High School, as well as moving from Clay County and failing to notify of his new address.

During the investigation information was discovered that indicated that Austin was involved in the illegal sale of controlled substances and had possibly involved young teen age juvenile females.

Austin was arrested at his Andrews North Carolina residence and incarcerated in the Cherokee County Detention Center for 2 counts of Violation of the North Carolina General Statutes pertaining to the Sex Offender Registry. He is currently under a $15,000.00 secure bond and has a March 27th, 2018 court date.

Austin’s arrest was part of Operation Southern Impact II where a total of 76 people were arrested, and 13 children were rescued or identified as victims during a mutually coordinated operation between eight southeastern states. The joint, proactive event, Operation Southern Impact II, was coordinated by nine Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in those eight states and focused on persons who possess and distribute child pornography and those who are sexually exploiting children in other ways using technology and the internet.

Sheriff Palmer stated “As you can see this is just one of the reasons that we are so diligent in our monitoring of Sex Offenders and why we have partnered with our State and Federal Partners to keep our innocents safe.”

Sheriff Palmer asks if you should have any information concerning this case or any other case to report suspicious activity and suspected violations of the law to please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Andrews man charged with murder

Police & Government

MURPHY, N.C. — Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the March 4. 2018, arrest of 36-year-old James Donald Taylor Jr., of Andrews, North Carolina, for second degree murder.

On March 4, 2018, the Cherokee County 911 Communications Center received a call for service to an address in Andrews, North Carolina. The nature of the call was that a female inside the residence had been shot. While law enforcement and emergency services personnel were en route to the scene, further information became known that Taylor had fled the scene in a small unknown make and model vehicle. Additional information was later given that Taylor was still armed.

Information was broadcast concerning the make and model of the vehicle that Taylor was occupying. A short time later, a deputy with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office observed the vehicle inside the town limits of Murphy. A felony stop was initiated which included several officers of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and Murphy Police Department.

During the arrest of Taylor, information was later made known that the victim was deceased. Investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by agents of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation worked late into the night continuing the investigation and seizing several items of evidence from the Andrews, North Carolina, residence.

Taylor has been booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center on the charge of second degree murder. Currently, Taylor has no bond.

Sheriff Palmer stated, “This investigation is in its early stages as we continue to collect information. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and the community as we all experience this loss. We appreciate the assistance that has been provided by the Murphy Police Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.”

Sheriff Palmer asks if you should have any information concerning this case or any other case to report suspicious activity and suspected violations of the law, please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Pair charged with trafficking in methamphetamine

Police & Government

MURPHY, N.C. — Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the March 1, 2018, arrest of 33-year-old Jennifer Renee Ploof, of Rome, Georgia, and 41-year-old Dustin Eugene Mcclure, of Marble, North Carolina, for charges involving the trafficking of methamphetamine.

On March 1, 2018, a K-9 deputy with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office while on patrol observed the vehicle Ploof and Mcclure were occupying, was speeding and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle failed to immediately stop, at which time another deputy arrived to assist with the stop. While deputies were attempting to stop the vehicle, the passenger was observed throwing a plastic bag from the window.

Once the vehicle was stopped and upon approaching the vehicle, the deputies observed a crystalline substance on the passenger. The deputies also recovered the plastic bag thrown from the vehicle, which contained a quantity of a crystalline substance. Both the substance on the passenger and from the bag recovered were tested and produced a positive result for methamphetamine. An additional amount of crystalline substance was recovered from the floor and door of the vehicle, along with digital scales. Approximately 34 grams, or a little over 1 ounce, of methamphetamine was seized during the arrest.

Jennifer Renee Ploof was booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center for TRAFFIC IN METHAMPHETAMINE, MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, and POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. She was released after making a $25,000 secure bond. She has a March 6, 2018, District Court date.

Dustin Eugene Mcclure was booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center and remains under a $25,000 secure bond for TRAFFIC IN METHAMPHETAMINE, MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, and POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA. Mcclure has a March 6, 2018, court date.

Sheriff Palmer stated, “Another battle won in our war on drugs in Cherokee County. What was taken off the street today potentially cost these dealers a little over $3,000, but the amount is immeasurable when looking at the potential lives that could be saved.”

Sheriff Palmer asks if you should have any information concerning this case or any other case to report suspicious activity and suspected violations of the law, please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Courthouse dome lantern plans discussed at commissioners meeting

News

MURPHY, N.C. – Restoration plans for the Cherokee County Courthouse lantern were discussed at length by the Board of Commissioners during their Tuesday, Feb. 19 meeting.

Specific action was approved by the board to move the lantern from the Western Carolina Regional Airport to the former Cherokee Well Drilling property located off of U.S. 64.

Of the restoration plans, Commissioner C.B. McKinnon stated, “In the quotes we got, there’s a lot of elaborate work on (the lantern) which is never seen. Nobody knows it’s there. The only people that’s seen it is if you’re brave enough to go up in a basket on the crane … Those decorative items, in my opinion, is what drives the cost up … So, I think this is a nice compromise to get the lantern back on the courthouse and aesthetically looking like it’s always looked.”

McKinnon later described the decorative items in question as a “drapery” base that is nearly flat after Commissioner Cal Stiles expressed concerns over replicating the original design.

“There’s no physical way to see it from the ground,” McKinnon added.

Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum pointed out that welding students from Tri-County Community College (TCCC) would be  assisting with the project, and Vice Chairman Gary Westmoreland stated Charles Carry, welding instructor at TCCC would be overseeing the copper work restoration. Westmoreland further explained that Carry is “one of the best coppermen in western North Carolina.”

Currently, the estimated cost of the restoration work is projected to be around $50,000.

Sheriff Derrick Palmer presented the board with a proposal for legal services for the sheriff’s office. According to Palmer, the legal consultation service, Smith Rodgers PLLC, would be hired at a flat rate of $10,642 a year and the one-year contract would be begin July 1.

County Manager Randy Wiggins explained the service would be used as an enhancement to the county’s own attorney, giving the sheriff’s office 24/7 legal consultation.

“This group does not come out and represent the sheriff’s office in legal suits and things of that nature,” Palmer stated. “That’s for the county attorney. What they do is give that expert consultation when we need an answer right then and we’re calling, writing a search warrant or getting ready to go into someone’s home, we can call and say, ‘This is what we’ve got. What’s your expert opinion on this?'”

Commissioner Stiles explained he believed the service will save the county money in the long run stating, “In all probability, it’s going to cost us $10,000 if we’re having to pay our county attorney, at that point,to give you advice. That would eat into this cost.”

Of the expert consultation, Eichenbaum said, “Any consultation with them is much more efficient because they’ve dealt with it over and over and over again.”

The commissioners unanimously approved Palmer’s proposal with the caveat that Palmer approach Smith Rodgers about a pro-rated contract to take effect immediately until the July 1 contract begins. According to Maria Hass, BOC clerk and assistant county manager, after Palmer contacted Smith Rodgers later in the week, an arrangement was made for legal consultation services to begin Monday, Feb. 26, under a pro-rated contract for the amount of $3,645.

A new Caterpillar D6N dozer tractor for use at the Cherokee County Landfill was purchased by the board for the amount of $323,391.78 from Carolina Caterpillar of Charlotte. Commissioner McKinnon explained plans were previously made to repair the landfill’s existing dozer tractor for an estimated cost of $60,000. After agreements with the repair company fell through, however, the county studied the possibility of purchasing of a used tractor.

“That used tractor had 2,000 hours and it was (around $290,000),” McKinnon said, “and it didn’t have the landfill package on it. So, the used tractor was going to be a lot more than the new tractor by the time you put the landfill package (on it) that keeps the sprockets clear of the garbage and the safety things that go on it. So, that’s how we ended up at a new dozer tractor.”

McKinnon stated the new tractor comes with a five-year warranty. The board unanimously approved the purchase and agreed a future discussion would come as to what to do with the old dozer tractor.

The board approved an agreement for Ralph Robinson, lessee of the Hiwassee Valley Pool and Wellness Center LLC, to reimburse the county for electric and propane costs until the end of the fiscal year (June 30). After that, Robinson will have to negotiate his own contract for these utility services. Currently, the contracts for electric and propane remain with the county for the center.

Commissioners also approved a budget revision for use of the school Half-Cent Sales Tax in the amount of $41,672. The amount, approved by the Board of Education at their Feb. 8 meeting, will fund maintenance and repair costs at Hiwassee Dam, Murphy and Martin’s Creek elementary schools, The Oaks Academy, Andrews Middle School and Murphy High School.

The purchase of a 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe was approved by the board for the sheriff’s office after the department lost the use of a patrol car due to engine failure. The cost of the Tahoe is $31,500 and the funds will be drawn from Sheriff’s Designated Fund balance.

The board approved a budget revision in the amount of $2,619 to purchase 10 animal waste receptacles and supplies for use at the Connahetta Park and Riverwalk area as well as the Andrews Recreation Park. The expenditure is funded from revenue from a North Carolina Community Conservation Assistance Program grant.

A proclamation declaring the 11th Annual Cherokee County Senior Games and Silver Arts Program to take place in Cherokee County April 28 through May 19 was issued by the Board of Commissioners. According to the proclamation, over one-third of the county’s full-time residents are 50 years of age or older, which puts Cherokee as one of the leading counties in the state in this category. The Senior Games and Silver Arts Program are “designed to inspire, motivate, and educate all citizens about their potential for good health and involvement throughout their lives.”

 

[Featured image:  Chairman Dr. Dan Eichenbaum, left, and Commissioners C.B. McKinnon and Cal Stiles vote to accept the agenda for the Monday, Feb. 19, Cherokee County Board of Commissioners meeting as County Manager Randy Wiggins looks on. Not pictured: Commissioners Ray Dickey and Gary Westmoreland.]

 

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Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Three arrested for drugs and guns

Press Release

MURPHY, N.C.— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the Feb. 16, 2018, arrest of 19-year-old Alicia Madison Brooks, of Blairsville, Georgia, 32-year-old Benjamin Dann Owens, of Blairsville, Georgia, and 20-year-old Jordan Taylor Hensley, also of Blairsville, Georgia, for violations of the controlled substance statute and violation of various weapon statutes.

On Feb. 16, 2018, a narcotics detective observed a vehicle make an illegal U-turn on U.S. 64 east near the town limits of Murphy. The narcotics detective followed the vehicle and made a traffic stop in which the vehicle was occupied by Brooks, Owens and Hensley. After the driver of the vehicle refused consent to search the vehicle, the narcotics K-9 was used and alerted the presence of illegal narcotics.

During the search of the occupants of the vehicle, syringes and other paraphernalia was located. Additionally, officers located a semi-automatic pistol along with a rifle that appeared to have a silencer on it in the passenger area of the vehicle. During the stop, information was located that Owens was a convicted felon.

Alicia Madison Brooks was brought to the Cherokee County Detention Center and booked for: MAINTAIN PLACE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE, RESISTING PUBLIC OFFICER, SIMPLE POSSESS SCH VI CS. Brooks was later released on a unsecure bond after appearing in Cherokee County District Court Feb. 19.

Benjamin Dann Owens was brought to the Cherokee County Detention Center where a small amount of suspected methamphetamine was found secreted on him. Owens remains incarcerated on a $15,000 secure bond on the following charges: POSSESS CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE PRISON/JAIL PREMISSES, POSSESSION OF FIREARM BY FELON, PWIMSD METHAMPHETAMINE.

Jordan Taylor Hensley was arrested and charged with RESISTING PUBLIC OFFICER. Hensley posted a $1,000 secure bond. Sheriff Palmer stated, “Again good work by all concerned. The mixture of illegal drugs and firearms, especially by convicted felons, makes for a dangerous situation!”

Sheriff Palmer asks if you should have any information concerning this case or any other case to report suspicious activity and suspected violations of the law, to please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

Absconding sex offender arrested after short foot chase

Press Release

MURPHY, N.C.— Sheriff Derrick Palmer announced the Feb. 16, 2018, arrest of 38-year-old Robert Burl Fletcher III, who listed a Gaston County, North Carolina address.

On Feb. 16, 2018, a patrol officer was dispatched to a business located on U.S. 64 west to investigate a report of individuals acting suspicious who may be involved in the illegal sale of controlled substances. The patrol officer arrived on scene and obtained identifying information from a male and female at the location. At the same time, an investigator of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office arrived to assist in the investigation. Fletcher then started fleeing from the scene and was apprehended a short distance later.

In a search incident to arrest, a small amount of suspected methamphetamine and narcotic paraphernalia was found. Fletcher is a convicted sex offender and had two active warrants from Clay and Gaston counties in North Carolina for failure to Notify Change of Address.

Robert Burl Fletcher III is currently incarcerated in the Cherokee County Detention Center on the following charges POSSESS METHAMPHETAMINE, POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA, RESISTING PUBLIC OFFICER. Fletcher’s bond for the Cherokee County charges is $15,000 secure. Clay and Gaston counties both have holds placed on Fletcher should he make bond.

Sheriff Palmer stated, “We cannot over stress the importance of the Sex Offender Registry laws and their importance in keeping registered offenders in compliance.”

Sheriff Palmer asks if you should have any information concerning this case or any other case to report suspicious activity and suspected violations of the law, to please call 828-837-3144 or submit a tip at crime.tips@cherokeecounty-nc.gov.

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