Jury indicts former fire chief

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, December 2, 2013 4:13 pm

A grand jury met behind closed doors on November 18 and handed down 38 true bills of indictments, including the former fire chief of the Ashford-North Cove Fire Department, who was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly embezzling money.

The grand jury meets to consider if enough evidence is present for a case to be heard in Superior Court.

Thomas Dexter Swofford, 54, of 1379 Honeycutt Road in Marion was charged with two counts of embezzlement of funds by a public officer and trustee and two counts of embezzlement of funds greater than $100,000 by a public officer and trustee.

Department of Insurance criminal investigators allege that while acting as the chief of the Ashford North Cove Volunteer Fire Department, Swofford made more than 500 cash withdrawals from fire department accounts and retained the money for his own personal use.

Investigators allege that between January 2010 and July 2013, Swofford embezzled more than $269,000 of fire department funds.

A joint investigation by the McDowell County District Attorney Brad Greenway, the North Carolina Financial Crimes Prosecution Unit and the Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division was launched after a citizen lodged an anonymous complaint with the McDowell County Finance Office and after concerns were raised about the use of grant funds issued by the Office of State Fire Marshal.

After his arrest last Wednesday, Swofford was placed under a $260,000 secured bond. He is currently free on bond and is scheduled for a court appearance on January 6, 2014.

The grand jury also indicted the following people on November 18.

Kenneth Earl Buchanan, 24, of Pops Buchanan, Morganton, one count of breaking or entering, one count of larceny after breaking and entering, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Chad Julius Clark, 33, of Rockdale Estates, Spruce Pine, one count possession of methamphetamine, one count possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of attempted misdemeanor larceny, one count of misdemeanor larceny, one count of habitual felon, and three counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Tyler Cox, 23, of Johnson Drive, Marion, one count breaking and entering a motor vehicle.

Ryan O’Neil Jeffries, 37, of Harmon Circle, Asheville, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance, one count of possession of marijuana up to a half-ounce, one count of driving while license revoked, one count of expired registration/tag, and one count of expired/no inspection.

Andrew George Long, 35, of Shady Lane, Marion, one count of obtaining property by false pretense, one count of failure to apply for a new title and one count of delivering/accepting a blank/open title.

Michael Brandon Martin, 35, of Ham Creek Road, Marion, one count of failing to register as a sex offender, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of possession of methamphetamine, one count of larceny of a motor vehicle, and one count of injury to personal property.

Charles Lee Proctor, 45, of Proctors Knob Road, Marion, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, one count of reckless driving, one count of possession of stolen goods/property, and one count of carrying a concealed gun.

Bradley Scott Simmons, 18, of Holly Street, Marion, one count of breaking or entering a motor vehicle.

Raymond Snelson, 65, of EP Boyd Drive, Marion, five counts of first-degree sex offense of a child and two counts of indecent liberties with a child.

William Ledue Vo, 25, of 19th Avenue Northwest, one count of possession of marijuana up to a half-ounce, one count of carrying a concealed weapon, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of possession of Schedule I controlled substance, one count of possession with intent to distribute Schedule I controlled substance, one count of a maintain vehicle for a controlled substance, and one count of driving while impaired.