Former prosecutor pleads in DWI fixing case

Former Johnston County district attorney Cynthia Jaeger

February 22, 2010 4:39:51 PM PST
The sixth and final defendant in a Johnston County ticket fixing scandal pleaded guilty Monday.

Former assistant district attorney Cynthia Jaeger agreed to a plea deal that had her enter guilty pleas to charges of obstruction and altering official court records.

Superior Court Judge Henry Hight sentenced her to at least three years in prison, three years probation, and ordered her to pay a $25,000 fine.

Jaeger admitted to signing dozens of blank dismissal forms that attorneys later in cases that went before a judge. Some of those cases were DWIs.

Last month, four attorneys and a former assistant court clerk pleaded guilty to charges brought by special prosecutors with Attorney General Roy Cooper's office following a probe by the State Bureau of Investigation.

Prosecutors have a special duty to abide by the laws they enforce, and failure to live up to that duty undermines our criminal justice system. Our investigators and attorneys have worked tirelessly to uncover and stop this corruption," said Cooper after Monday's plea announcement.

According to prosecutors, in 2007, Jaeger signed about 70 blank DWI dismissal forms, which the attorneys filled out after she had resigned from the district attorney's office.

Lawyer Chadwick Lee was sentenced to the most jail time for his role in the conspiracy. The 32-year-old Johnston County attorney will spend about five years behind bars and lose his license.

Another one of the attorneys, Lee Hatch, also will be prohibited from practicing law and will spend about four years in prison.

The other two lawyers who plead guilty, Vann Sauls and Jack McLamb, each received a 90-day suspended sentence and will be able to defend criminal cases again each after serving a 3-year probation.

Former assistant court clerk Portia Sneads received a 45-day sentence and a suspension.

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