First Posted: 1/15/2009
RALEIGH - Former Robeson County deputy Vincent Sinclair told a federal judge Monday that he waited for a drug dealer to leave a card game in 2003, then duct taped the man's mouth, took him into the woods and beat him.
The 44-year-old Red Springs man admitted in court that it was all part of a plan to get the man's girlfriend to drop off 2 kilograms of cocaine and $150,000 at a predetermined location. Sinclair then split the money with the four men who helped him, including another former deputy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Sinclair's admission came as he pled guilty to trying to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, kidnapping and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence. He faces a possible life sentence in prison and fines of about $2.5 million.
Sinclair was not the only deputy to head to federal court on Monday.
Former sheriff's Maj. Billy Wayne Strickland pled guilty to conspiracy to commit satellite piracy. Strickland resigned from the Sheriff's Office late Friday afternoon. Ricky Britt, a former lieutenant detective, pled guilty two weeks ago to the same charges.
Eleven deputies have been convicted as a result of a three-year state and federal investigation into alleged corruption within the Sheriff's Office.
The statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office said Sinclair agreed to plead guilty in exchange for his testimony against others involved in corruption within the Robeson County Sheriff's Office.
Sinclair also admitted that in February 2004, he and four other men traveled to Norfolk, Va., to kidnap two alleged drug dealers - Ronald Lamont Wilton and Elton Williams - at gunpoint. Sinclair and his accomplices wore police badges during the kidnapping, according to prosecutors. Sinclair thought the men were carrying about $400,000, District Attorney Johnson Britt has said.
Former Robeson County deputy Patrick Ferguson pleaded guilty in August to the Virginia kidnappings.
Sinclair, Ferguson and the others ordered the men to get into their van and drove them to a gas station. The men escaped, but one was shot in a leg.
Sinclair also has several pending charges filed against him by the state of North Carolina.
In April 2006, he was charged with armed robbery, first-degree kidnapping, felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury and second-degree kidnapping. Those charges allege he set a man on fire during a staged drug raid in April 2004.
The offenses were committed while Sinclair was employed as deputy. He also served as a detective in the sheriff's Juvenile Task Force.
The federal government charged Strickland with a conspiracy to commit satellite piracy on Jan. 26, according to court records.
Prosecutors said Strickland conspired with at least one other person from January 2000 to December 2003 to traffic or possess the unauthorized use of telecommunications service.
Strickland will be sentenced later. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Strickland served as the chief of operations and supervised the uniformed patrol deputies, the canine division and the bailiffs at the courthouse.
He earned $50,100 a year.