A former Cherryville police officer has become the final person accused in a federal investigation to plead guilty.
Frankie Dellinger, 40, of Cherryville entered a guilty plea Thursday to:
One count of money laundering, for which he could serve two decades in prison and pay $500,000 fine;
One count of conspiracy to transport/receive stolen property, which includes a five-year maximum prison sentence and $250,000 fine;
One count each of extortion and conspiracy to extort under color of official right, which each also include a maximum $250,000 fine and 20-year prison term, federal officials said.
Five other individuals have already pleaded guilty in the case, admitting to working with Dellinger and undercover federal agents posing as criminals to both transport stolen goods through the area and retain some of the proceeds from their sale.
At the time of the incidents, Wesley Clayton Golden, 39, was a reserve officer with the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, Casey Justin Crawford, 32, and David Paul Mauney III, 23, also served as officers with the Cherryville Police Department, while Mark Ray Hoyle, 39, and John Ashley Hendricks, 47, were Cherryville residents who were not officers.
Each of the five men also faces decades in prison and steep fines, federal officials said.
In 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opted to commence an investigation and pose as criminals after the agency had become suspicious about Dellinger’s alleged criminal involvement in the area. The FBI arrested the men in October and raided the local police department for evidence.
Federal documents reveal Dellinger also stole numerous items from local homes but that then Police Chief Woodrow Burgess didn’t file charges against the officer; he simply told him to return the items, according to various local news media outlets.
Shortly after the defendants were arrested, Burgess and Sgt. Mike Allred were suspended from the agency. However, Burgess later resigned, and Sgt. Cam Jenks was named to the chief position.
All the defendants are awaiting sentencing at this time.