Former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford and former reserve Capt. Guy Penland were found guilty on all counts in their federal corruption trial this morning.
After deliberating for just over two hours, the jury returned guilty verdicts for the two men on charges of extortion under color of law, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, five counts of mail fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to further an illegal-gambling operation.
The court will now decide how much property they will each forfeit, and what their sentences will be. Given that the counts each carry from 5 to 20 years in prison, both Medford and Penland could easily spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Medford trembled, his hands on a table, as the verdict was read, while defense attorney Victoria Jayne put her arm on his shoulder. Friends and family of the two men, who filled several benches in the courtroom, burst into tears as they heard the verdict.
Later, the jury found that the both Medford and Penland had also accrued at total of $287,776 in illegal money that would now be subject to forfeiture. The calculation included proceeds from golf tournaments after 2002 and bribes that illegal-video-poker operators testified they paid to Medford.
Judge Tim Ellis announced that the two men will be sentenced in about 4 to 6 weeks. In the meantime, Ellis ruled that they’ll remain under house arrest, with GPS monitoring systems, and not allowed to leave the house except for pre-arranged visits with a doctor or lawyer.
Ellis thanked the jury before dismissing them. While he said that since the case was over, they could talk to whomever they chose, he cautioned them not to speak to “the media mill.”
On his way out of the federal courthouse building, Medford stopped to talk with a group of photographers and reporters. “I still have faith in the justice system,” Medford said.
Penland said “No comment” as he walked to a waiting sport utility vehicle.
Click here to see photos of Medford and Penland leaving court on Thursday afternoon. Click below to hear Ron Honeycutt, Medford’s longtime friend and former campaign manager, react to the jury’s decision.
— David Forbes, staff writer