Pubdate: Wed, 11 Dec 2013
Source: Star-News (Wilmington, NC)
Copyright: 2013 Wilmington Morning Star
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


During a 20-day period in December 2012, the then-second-in-command 
of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office vice and narcotics unit 
forged court orders to acquire prescription pain medication from a 
College Road pharmacy 10 times, court documents released Tuesday allege.

Indictments handed up by a New Hanover County grand jury Monday 
indicate former lieutenant Joey LeBlanc's alleged criminal activity, 
all of which involved pain medication such as oxycodone or OxyContin, 
became increasingly common in December 2012 and January 2013. The 
final activity he was indicted on occurred May 7.

LeBlanc, who was indicted on 122 drug-related charges by the grand 
jury, was fired from the sheriff's office June 11.

The first charges LeBlanc faces stem from an Aug. 6, 2010, incident 
in which he is accused of taking three envelopes from the sheriff's 
office's Evidence Control Unit. According to court documents, one 
envelope contained 30 blue pills, another contained 60 pills and 
another contained 192 pills.

"... the defendant in his capacity as an Assistant Commander of the 
Vice and Narcotics Division with the New Hanover Sheriff's Office 
checked out narcotics, drugs, prescription medication or prescription 
medicine evidence from the New Hanover Sheriff's Office Evidence 
Control Unit for the purpose of reviewing criminal cases assigned to 
his subordinates," the indictment said, "when in fact the defendant 
had never intended to review any cases nor return the evidence to New 
Hanover Sheriff's Office's Evidence Control Unit."

Nearly 10 months passed before LeBlanc allegedly stole again, taking 
50 blue pills from the sheriff's office's evidence room. Cedric 
Carmichael, the defendant in the case involving those pills, had 
already pleaded guilty when the incident occurred.

"The evidence that was tampered with was meant to be destroyed. It 
was no longer material to the case and LeBlanc tampering with it had 
no bearing on the case," said Sam Dooies, a New Hanover County 
District Attorney's Office spokeswoman.

In November, the pace of LeBlanc's alleged activity quickened.

On Nov. 5, documents say, LeBlanc forged the signature of a New 
Hanover County and Superior Court judge and a New Hanover County 
assistant district attorney to acquire oxycodone from CVS Pharmacy, 
3625 S. College Road.

LeBlanc returned Nov. 7 and Nov. 9 for more oxycodone, according to 
the court documents.

When LeBlanc came back to the CVS on Nov. 18, the documents said, he 
only used the Superior Court judge's signature to obtain between 4 
and 14 grams of oxycodone acetaminophen 5-325. LeBlanc allegedly 
returned to the CVS on Nov. 21 and Nov. 23, 2012, to obtain oxycodone.

Then, on Nov. 30, 2012, the documents said, LeBlanc took seven yellow 
pills from the evidence room.

In December 2012, LeBlanc's activity reached a torrid pace. The 
then-lieutenant allegedly obtained drugs from the CVS under false 
pretense on 11 occasions between Dec. 8 and Dec. 31.

Among the drugs LeBlanc is accused of picking up were oxycodone 
acetaminophen 7.5-325 and other forms of oxycodone.

That pace continued into January, when LeBlanc is accused of visiting 
the CVS on 12 more occasions, again mainly filling forged orders for 
oxycodone or oxycodone acetaminophen, as well as some orders of OxyContin.

At that point, LeBlanc's alleged crimes slowed down. He visited the 
CVS to fill a fake order one more time, on April 16, documents said.

He is also accused of stealing 30 more pills from the evidence room. 
Those pills were evidence in a case involving Gerald Reese. Dooies 
said that case was dismissed because the undercover officer involved 
wasn't available to testify.

"As in Carmichael's case, the resolution of this case was independent 
of LeBlanc's conduct and did not impact the outcome. He tampered with 
evidence, but the tampering (which we learned about after the 
dismissal) was not the cause for the dismissal," she said.

Jack Jenkins, a visiting Superior Court judge from Morehead City, 
placed LeBlanc under a $500,000 bond on Monday, saying he'd 
reconsider the amount if a live-in rehab facility could be located for him.

Jenkins was hearing the case because LeBlanc is accused of forging 
New Hanover County Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb's signature, 
and a N.C. assistant attorney general is serving as the case's 
prosecutor because LeBlanc allegedly forged a New Hanover County 
assistant district attorney's signature.

J. Michael McGuinness, LeBlanc's attorney, said Monday in court that 
LeBlanc has battled his addiction constantly, including attending a 
live-in rehab facility in California at some point.

When he returned, McGuinness said, LeBlanc "was placed back in the 
narcotics unit where he was exposed to the very types of medication 
that had addicted him."

On Tuesday, New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon said in a statement 
that neither he nor anyone in his office knew LeBlanc had been in 
rehab. Furthermore, McMahon said, LeBlanc was questioned in March 
2013 and denied he had been in a rehab facility.

"Neither I nor my staff have ever had any credible information that 
LeBlanc attended any drug rehabilitation center," McMahon wrote.

McMahon added that LeBlanc took regular drug screens in 2011 and 
2012, and passed all of them.

On June 6, LeBlanc failed a drug screen, Jenkins said Monday.

LeBlanc was fired from the Sheriff's Office on June 11, and the Vice 
and Narcotics Unit was placed under new leadership about a month later.

Another ramification of LeBlanc's alleged actions include the 
District Attorney's Office dropping 31 counts of drug charges against 
nine defendants because of LeBlanc's involvement in the cases.

At least one other case involving level-one trafficking - which 
usually would carry a sentence of from 18 years and nine months to 23 
years and three months - was compromised by LeBlanc's alleged involvement.

Tierre Henderson pleaded guilty to the charges, receiving a sentence 
of about nine years to 11 years and nine months. The DA's case was 
"diminished," Dooies said, because LeBlanc participated in the search.

"It's still a good outcome, but it was certainly impacted by the 
officer's conduct," Dooies said.

The DA's office cannot quantify the number of cases where it can 
secure a conviction but has to do so at a reduced charge because 
LeBlanc was involved, she added.
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