Last Friday, former sheriff’s Lt. Ronnie “Butch” Davis and Weaverville businessman Jackie Shepherd signed plea deals with federal prosecutors, leaving former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford and one of his deputies the only remaining targets facing federal corruption charges.
Davis’ plea deal was unwritten, but a court document accepting the deal shows that he plead guilty to 11 charges, including extortion, mail fraud, lying to the court and running a criminal operation where he gave out video-poker registration stickers to operators of illegal machines. At the time, Davis was in charge of registering the machiens for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
Several of the counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Meanwhile, Shepherd, a longtime political supporter of Medford and contributor to his campaigns, confessed to running an illegal gambling operation through his business, Wester Amusements Inc. According to the document, he collected over $2,000 a day from 41 machines in 10 locations in Buncombe and Madison counties.
As part of the plea deal, charges against Shepherd’s son and stepson were dropped in return for his cooperation. He also agreed to forfeit just under $700,000 in funds from his operation, two personal vehicles and three pieces of property, including Bill Jack’s Flea Market in Madison County.
Combined with a slew of recent plea deals, including former Capt. John “Johnny” Harrison reaching a plea agreement late last month, this leaves Medford and reserve Capt. Guy Penland left to face federal charges. Both are scheduled for trial on March 25.
— David Forbes, staff writer