Today was the first round of sentencing in the police corruption case with two more rounds scheduled for Thursday at the federal courthouse in Greenville.
The sentencings Thursday will be spaced out in a 9 a.m. session and then a 1 p.m. session.
Judge Malcolm Howard sentenced Lann Clanton to 16 ½ years in prison; Ikeisha Jacobs to 10 years; Jason Boone to 8 and Wardie Vincent Jr. to 6.
Clanton, the only person to be recruited by the FBI to guard shipments of fake heroin and cocaine as well as proceeds, told the court, “I’m asking for mercy to help me anyway you can. I made a mistake. I’m sorry it happened.”
Judge Howard asked Clanton about allegations made by the government today that he became a law enforcement officer to aid convicted federal drug dealers Sterling Moody and Elton Boone.
“That part is not true,” Clanton said. “I’ve known Elton Boone all my life. They didn’t tell me to do those things.”
Clanton said he was scared to walk away from the operation. “I throw myself on the mercy of the court. I understand I took a plea. Anything you can do to help me, you’ll never worry about this again from me.”
United States Attorney Lauren Bell told the court, “The government disagrees this was a mistake.”
She said Clanton participated in 13 operations, including robbing a reputed drug courier. Bell said Clanton described the people who ended up being undercover agents as friendly. “You can’t say it both ways, say they were too friendly and you were too scared.”
Jacobs broke down as she talked to the court. “I am responsible for my activity. I have dishonored my entire family, the citizens of Halifax, Northampton and Pasquotank counties. I’m asking for a second chance. I’ve worked hard all my life. As a single mother I took to work diligently.”
Jacobs told the court she made a clearly poor decision with her involvement in Rockfish. “I learned a valuable lesson … I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. When I was offered $2,000 I lost sight of myself, I forgot who I was.”
United States Attorney Toby Lathan told the court the case “tears at the very fabric of law enforcement.”
Jacobs was the second person to participate in the case. “She shows up in her uniform, eager to participate,” Lathan said. “She asked the FBI to provide her cocaine.”
While Jacobs denied it as she spoke to Judge Howard, Lathan told the court, “It was clear Ms. Jacobs was involved with another drug dealer.”
Boone admitted responsibility for his actions in the case. His plan is to better himself, he told the court. “I accept my responsibility.”
Boone’s attorney, Joe Cheshire, gave a lengthy account of his involvement with his client in the case. “Clearly there was corruption,” he said.
But Boone was a quiet defendant in the case, his attorney said, recruited by Vincent, his cousin. “At the time he didn’t know it was drugs.”
After his recruitment, Cheshire said, “You see very little of Jason Boone. He came to realize what was going on. There was no evidence Jason Boone ever had a gun until the end.”
Cheshire spoke of the economic woes of Northeastern North Carolina. “It’s a tough place to be from. He was not born into an impoverished family. He was born into a poor family.”
The attorney said Boone worked to provide for his family, driving a Pepsi truck at one point before becoming a law enforcement officer. “He wasn’t just a good law enforcement officer, he was a great law enforcement officer. He upheld the law, uplifted children and young people and worked in schools and parks.”
Cheshire said his client will do well. “This man will never be in trouble again.”
Vincent apologized for his actions as his father and mother looked on.
His father, former Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent Sr., declined comment during a break.
“I’m sorry for my actions. I hurt my family and community,” Vincent told the court. “My neglectful actions took away two years. I know there is no acceptable excuse. I ask for the mercy of the court.”
Lathan said Vincent, the first person to take a plea in the case, admitted his culpability in the case.
His attorney, Thomas Manning, told the court, “It’s important to know he worked as a deputy when his father was sheriff. Because his father was the head guy, he worked twice as hard and twice as long. He was better, faster, quicker than everyone else.”