Former probation officer sentenced on drug, extortion charges - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Former probation officer sentenced on drug, extortion charges

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BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

A former North Carolina probation officer was sentenced to nearly a year and a half in prison for extortion and drug trafficking offenses involving persons under his supervision.

According to U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins, 46-year-old James David Franklin, of Lenoir, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison term.

From April 2001 through July 2010, Franklin was employed as a Surveillance Officer by the North Carolina Department of Correction's Division of Community Corrections (DCC) and supervised probationers on intensive supervision in Burke and Caldwell Counties, according to court documents and court proceedings.

Filed documents show that Franklin primarily conducted curfew checks and compliance searches and had arrest power over probationers and parolees. Court records indicate that from in or about July 2009 to in or about July 2010, Franklin used his position on multiple occasions to extort drugs from an individual who had been under Franklin's supervision.

Specifically, court records show that Franklin, via text messages and other communications, repeatedly asked the probationer to supply him with narcotics, including methamphetamine and hydrocodone.

Court records show that Franklin would arrange to retrieve the narcotics from the probationer's driveway in exchange for cash.

Law enforcement officers were alerted to Franklin's conduct when the probationer complained to his federal probation officer and to his primary North Carolina probation officer.

Subsequently, Franklin was placed on desk duty.

While on desk duty, Franklin sent a text message to the probationer asking him to sell hydrocodone pills in exchange for a portion of the proceeds from the sale, the Attorney General's Office stated. Franklin told the probationer that he would pay him "3 dollars a piece" for 125 hydrocodone pills.

According to court records, Franklin was apprehended by law enforcement officers when he went to the probationer's house to deliver the hydrocodone pills in exchange for $375 in cash.

In December 2011, Franklin pleaded guilty to one count of extortion under color of official right and one count of possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone.

When announcing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger noted that the sentence imposed was more than minimally required under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines because the defendant was "A person who by reason of his position had taken actions that undermine the integrity of the legal system."

Franklin has been in custody since April 2011. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

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