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Three Cherryville officials were sentenced to prison for their involvement in a crime ring that handled stolen goods and dirty money.
Former Cherryville officer Frankie Dellinger, Mark Hoyle, and former Gaston County Sheriff's deputy Wesley Golden were arrested during an FBI raid in Gaston County in 2012.
All three men pleaded guilty for their involvement in the case and have been in prison for nearly 16 months.
On Wednesday Dellinger was sentenced to 36 months in prison, Hoyle was sentenced to 21 months and Golden was given 20 months. All three men were given time served in their sentences.
Last year, Dellinger pleaded guilty to Conspiracy, Possession, and Transportation of stolen goods, two counts extortion, money laundering, and concealing money gained through crime.
A judge accepted the plea.
From the beginning, the judge refused bond for Dellinger, calling the forecast of the government's case against him "shocking". The judge added, "Bond would not be appropriate".
Shortly after the officers were arrested, an FBI agent testified and said the undercover sting was videotaped. He said seven times during the operation, Dellinger provided protection for what he thought were stolen goods. Investigators said Dellinger worked to make sure legitimate police didn't intercept.
Agents say Dellinger asked to 'front' or buy a kilo of cocaine, and launder money. Investigators say he offered drive the trucks.
Federal investigators say Dellinger is facing an ongoing investigation. According to the FBI agent who testified, Dellinger stole property from a Cherryville home. His colleagues at the Police Department told him to give it back.
In another case, Dellinger is accused of stealing cash from an insurance company's office. The owner accused Dellinger. The agent testified Dellinger 'threatened to plant dope if the man didn't stop complaining".
Investigators say Dellinger told undercover agents he was providing protection for an illegal gambling operation that was allegedly being run by co-defendant, Mark Hoyle.
Federal indictments accused the now-former Cherryville officers, as well as a reserve deputy sheriff with the Gaston County Sheriff's Office with multiple counts related to the misuse of their official position to provide protection for the transportation of goods they believed to be stolen.
Two non-law enforcement defendants were also charged for their roles in the conspiracy.
According to the first indictment, beginning in August 2012, Dellinger, Wesley Golden and Mark Hoyle conspired with undercover law enforcement agents to provide "protection" through Gaston County for tractor trailers transporting through what the defendants believed to be stolen merchandise such as televisions, generators and motor vehicles, with a total retail value in excess of $158,000.
The defendants also conspired to provide "protection" for the transportation of cash in excess of $400,000, which they believed to be proceeds from the sale of stolen goods.
The second indictment alleged - beginning in May 2012, Casey Crawford, David Mauney and John Hendricks conspired with undercover law enforcement agents to provide "protection" for truckloads of stolen merchandise which purportedly included, among other things, televisions, generators and chain saws, allegedly worth over $300,000, as well as cash totaling over $300,000 in proceeds from the sale of stolen merchandise.
Allegations in both indictments said Dellinger, Golden, Crawford, and Mauney – on several occasions – used their credentials and legal authority to assist with the transfer or transport of stolen goods and/or cash proceeds from the sale of stolen goods, in exchange for monetary bribes.
Investigators say Hendricks' role was to assist Crawford and Mauney in conducting counter-surveillance. Hoyle's role, according to investigators, was to represent himself as a law enforcement officer.
Court documents show federal agents became aware of Dellinger in 2011. Agents went undercover to pose as people selling stolen goods. Investigators say Dellinger recruited others to join his scheme to protect stolen goods.
According to court documents, during the undercover operation, some of the officers vouched for each other by saying they used their law enforcement positions to protect illegal activities in and around Gaston County.
All of the defendants originally pleaded not guilty, but Golden, Crawford, Mauney, and Hoyle worked out a deal in late December with prosecutors. Each pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and trafficking stolen goods. The plea carries a penalty of up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.