Chief of private Raleigh police agency indicted on 13 felony counts

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Joseph Conover

The chief of a private police force in Raleigh stands accused of a massive abuse of power.

Joseph Conover is chief of police at Nova Agency Company Police in Raleigh. Nova is a private police force, but like many private police companies in Wake County, Conover is a fully-sworn officer under North Carolina Law.

In the 11-page indictment, handed down Monday afternoon by a Wake County Grand Jury, Conover allegedly terrorized the residents he swore to protect.

By Monday evening, Chief Conover was booked into the Wake County Jail. His bond was set at $2 million.

"I think what's important about today is that we're going to take allegations of excessive force by officers seriously," said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.

Freeman says a joint investigation by her office and the State Bureau of Investigation is ongoing- more charges against Conover could be coming.

Monday, the grand jury indicted Conover on 13 felonies: obstruction of justice, willful failure to discharge duties, and simple assault.

Many of Conover's alleged victims are residents at Raleigh apartment complexes that his Nova Agency is contracted to police.

Attorney Ed Luggan represents one of the residents. Ernest Yarborough was allegedly tasered twice by Conover, thrown from his car and then unlawfully arrested.

"(Yarborough) has scarring from the puncture wound. He was slammed on the ground," Luggan said describing Yarborough's violent encounter with Conover.

Conover is a familiar figure in the city. Last month, he went to Raleigh City Council to complain about Raleigh Police. Conover accused RPD of interfering with his police operations and failing to assist in his investigations.

"I've filed no less than 4 requests of this council asking you to address ongoing issues," Conover said during the public hearing last month.

"We're not actually sure that any other police officers work for Nova other than Conover," said Luggan. "He says my staff, my officers, my department and we're not certain anybody else works for him, other than him."

Among the victims named in the indictment is a 16-year old boy allegedly pepper-sprayed by Conover with no legal justification.

Conover is due back in court on April 11.

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