Guilty pleas in DWI fixing case

Attorney Van Sauls

January 25, 2010 3:33:14 PM PST
Four lawyers and a deputy court clerk accused in a drunk driving ticket fixing scandal in Johnston County pleaded guilty Monday morning.

Lawyer Chad Lee pleaded guilty to 10 felony counts of altering official case records, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. He will lose his license to practice law and got a jail sentence of just over five years. He must also pay $29,000 in restitution.

Click here to read the plea agreements (.pdf)

Fellow lawyer Lee Hatch pleaded to the same charges but got a sentence of close to four years. His restitution was set at $14,000.

Lawyer Van Sauls pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice and got a 90-day suspended sentence and 3 years probation. He agreed to pay $2350 in restitution and will give up his law license for the duration of his probation.

Lawyer Jack McLamb pleaded to the same charges as Sauls but got his 90-day sentence suspended. He will have to spend three weekends in jail.

Former deputy court clerk Portia Snead pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor obstruction of justice.

"We expect those who serve as officers of the court to have the highest ethical standards. When the people we trust to uphold the law break it, our system of justice is threatened. Rooting out this corruption in the courts will help restore the system's integrity," offered North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Also accused in the case is former Johnston County prosecutor Cindy Jaegar. She was not in court, and the five others have agreed to testify against her as part of their plea deals.

Prosecutors say the group helped drunk drivers get illegal dismissals.

Special prosecutors with Cooper’s office brought the charges after an investigation by State Bureau of Investigation agents into cases that were allegedly dismissed using forms signed by Jaeger and then filed after she had resigned from the District Attorney’s Office.

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