Former Spring Lake cop pleads guilty

Former Sergeant Alphonzo Devonne Whittington, Jr. (AP/Cumberland Co Sheriff's Office)

April 9, 2010 10:14:42 AM PDT
The first of two Spring Lake police officers involved in a scandal that brought down the department pleaded guilty to charges related to the investigation Friday.

Former Sergeant Alphonzo Devonne Whittington, Jr. was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to one felony and two misdemeanors before Judge Lynn Johnson.

Whittington was indicted last May on a host of charges after investigators say he took $2,900 in cash from the department's evidence room. As part of his plea agreement, the other charges were dropped. Because of his law enforcement background, authorities said Whittington would be held in special confinement while incarcerated.

Spring Lake is a small community of about 8,000 located between Fayetteville and Raleigh. The corruption allegations rocked the town and forced the Cumberland County sheriff to take control of the police department. Its chief resigned, and the department only recently started back on patrol.

Charges remain against a second officer. Sgt. Darryl Eugene Coulter, Sr. is expected in court in May after allegedly taking part in an armed home invasion. A grand jury indicted him on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, three counts of second degree kidnapping (a felony), one count of felony breaking and entering, two counts of willful failure to discharge duty (a misdemeanor), three counts of simple assault (a misdemeanor), three counts of assault with a deadly weapon (a misdemeanor), three counts of assault by pointing a gun (a misdemeanor), and three counts of false imprisonment (a misdemeanor).

According to the grand jury indictment, the charges stem from an April 27, 2008, incident at a home on the 400 block of Vass Road.

Coulter allegedly broke into the home and assaulted three men. He forced them from the home with a handgun and a shotgun, kidnapped them, and then held them against their will by handcuffing them.

Coulter was supervising three other officers at the time and allegedly had no legal justification for what happened.

The indictments also allege that Coulter lied when he said he smelled marijuana during an investigation at local motel. Officers took $2,900 in cash from the room, and Sgt. Wittington was accused of later taking that cash from the department's evidence room.

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