Medford sentenced to 15 years in prison

A federal judge sentenced former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford to 15 years in prison on corruption and extortion charges on Oct. 6.

The sentence came after a day of objections (97 in all) from defense attorney Stephen Lindsay. Judge Thomas Ellis overruled many of the objections and said that he believed Lindsay was re-arguing points he tried to make in the May trial that saw Medford convicted on 10 counts related to taking bribes from illegal video-poker operators in return for allowing their businesses to operate.

Lindsay also argued that due to Medford’s poor health, he should receive a reduced sentence, and the attorney presented a letter from people in the county praising Medford and petitioning the court to reduce his sentence.

Ellis said he acknowledged Medford’s health situation and his support in the community, but the judge compared corruption to “a cancer on our society” and said the sentence needed to be harsh.

“This [sentence] must stand like a bright beacon, warning others that if they think of abusing their office for personal gain, that there will be serious consequences,” Ellis said. In remarks to Medford, he told the former sheriff that “You have betrayed the trust conferred on you. … You abused that power in order to enrich yourself.”

Medford could be let out in about 12-and-a-half years for good behavior, but there is no parole in the federal-prison system.

At press time, sentencing hearings for three of Medford’s former deputies were still ongoing. (See updates this week at
For documents related to the Medford case, go to


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