A grand jury has indicted yet another Iredell County law enforcement officer for obstructing justice.
Thomas Lane “Tommy” Adams, a sergeant with the Iredell County Sheriff's Office, was indicted earlier this week. The State Bureau of Investigation apparently served Adams, who was then processed and released from the Iredell County Jail on an unsecured bond.
Just seven months ago, a state grand jury indicted former Mooresville Police Chief John Crone for obstruction of justice and embezzlement. Crone's case has been continued twice; his next court date is Feb. 14, 2011.
As of late this week, Iredell County's clerk of superior court still had no record of a warrant being served on Adams.
It is unclear if Adams is still employed by the sheriff's office. Sandra Gregory, director of human resources for Iredell County, said yesterday that she could provide Adams' public employment information – including his most recent salary and change in status – within “a day or two.” However, she did not respond to an immediate follow-up email, asking if the sheriff's office still employs Adams.
Sheriff Phil Redmond has continued to employ Adams for five years after the incident from which the charge against him was brought. In fact, in a Sept. 17 e-mail to the Report, Capt. Darren Campbell, on behalf of Redmond, said, “The Iredell County Sheriff's Office and SBI conducted a proper and thorough review of this matter, Sheriff Redmond is satisfied that North Carolina law has been followed in all respects, and professional law enforcement standards and practices continue to be applied and enforced for the benefit of Iredell County citizens.”
In an e-mail yesterday, Campbell refused to answer whether Adams is still employed by the sheriff's office, responding simply: "I am forwarding your e-mail to the Captain of Personnel and Training."
The obstruction of justice charge stems from an incident that took place in or around 2005, when Adams retrieved two guns, cases and ammunition from a convicted felon. Adams signed an evidence sheet, indicating that he had submitted the property to the evidence room. But about a year later – after the defendant in the case had pleaded guilty to the charges against him – it was discovered that the guns were either missing or had never been turned it.
Upon being questioned by Campbell, Adams originally denied knowing the whereabouts of either gun. But after further questioning, he retrieved one gun from his personal residence and one from his personal vehicle and turned them over to the captain.
Sheriff's office personnel say Adams was never punished for the incident.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time Adams has had a brush with the law. At the time he was hired at the sheriff's office, Adams' former employer – a major retail store in Winston Salem – had charged him with felony embezzlement. Adams pleaded the charge down to a misdemeanor, which remained on his record when Redmond hired him to work at the Iredell County Sheriff's Office in the early 2000s.
The county paid Adams, an unsworn sheriff's office employee, to attend Basic Law Enforcement Training, covering his tuition and fees, even while most other rookies have paid their own way through BLET, taking classes while working at the sheriff's office at opposite times of the day.
Immediately out of rookie school, Redmond promoted Adams to detective sergeant, a practice that is virtually unheard of in the law-enforcement community, according to a dozen North Carolina police chiefs contacted by the Report this summer.
For more detail, visit http://thegattonreport.blogspot.com/2010/10/are-law-enforcers-above-law.html.