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October 23, 2013

Former Princeville cop found guilty

TARBORO — Former Princeville police officer William Anthony Barnes was found guilty by a Superior Court jury last week of both a felony and a misdemeanor. The conviction forces Barnes to turn in his law enforcement certification.

The jury found him guilty of altering a title and obtaining property by false pretenses. The felony conspiracy charge was dismissed.

Superior Court Judge Walter Godwin sentenced the 50-year-old Barnes to serve six to 17 months in the NC Department of Corrections. The sentence was suspended for 36 months and Barnes was placed on supervised probation for the suspended period of time. He was also ordered to surrender his law enforcement certification to the Clerk of Court and pay court costs and restitution, but Barnes immediately appealed the conviction.

The NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Bureau of Theft began investigating  the case when they received information Nov. 7, 2012 from the victim that they had paid Barnes $4,000 for a vehicle and Barnes never gave them the vehicle or the title.

According to the arrest warrants, Barnes filled out an MVR4 form, which is used to apply for a duplicate title for a motor vehicle, and the information that was printed on the form was falsified and forged. A notary public knowing and willingly notarized the form and sent it to DMV. According to the arrest warrants, the notary was former Princeville town clerk Diana Draughn.

The clerk's office said all of her charges were subsequently dismissed in October by the District Attorney's Office as part of an agreement that she testify against Barnes in court.

A tow truck owner, Jesse White, was also later charged in the case. He pled guilty in August to fail to file a report of an unclaimed vehicle. As part of the plea agreement he was given a prayer for judgement and the obtaining property by false pretenses charge was dismissed. Also as part of the plea agreement, White can continue to stay on the law enforcement rotation to pick up vehicles from accidents in the county.

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