DOBSON — A single suspect involved with a counterfeit ring that swept through Surry County two years ago was convicted and sentenced with unsupervised probation last week in Superior Court.
Ebonee Andra Saymon Middleton, 0f Charleston, South Carolina, had been arrested in June 2014 in Mount Airy after local businesses alerted authorities of a group passing counterfeit bills.
The Mount Airy Police Department caught up with them at Kentucky Fried Chicken on Rockford Road, but they took off.
“Everyone involved fled with the exception of Miss Middleton,” Assistant District Attorney Mike Beal stated in court during the Sept. 8 plea hearing.
The 23-year-old defendant was charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense, three counts of obtaining property by false pretense and two counts each of possession of five or more counterfeit instruments and uttering a forged instrument.
Middleton pleaded guilty to two lesser counts of possession of a single counterfeit instrument and the remaining charges were dismissed by the state.
“She gave truthful and complete answers,” to investigating detectives, “including the identities of the individuals with her,” Beal explained.
The News reported in July 2014 that three additional suspects identified by Middleton were apprehended in Ware County, Georgia, and charged with possession of counterfeit U.S. Currency: Angelica Estelle McDowell, of Atlanta, Georgia; Joe Lewis Peterson, of Hampton, Georgia; Brittanie Nicole Johnson, of Atlanta, Georgia.
A fourth suspect, Tierra Denise Calvary, of Charleston, South Carolina, was not arrested.
The ring allegedly struck in Winston-Salem, Hillsville, Virginia, and as far south as Florida.
Those suspects do not appear to have been issued any warrants from Surry County.
The prosecutor later noted to the judge that those individuals were not able to be located, “after numerous attempts,” and that the U.S. Secret Service, (which was created in 1865 to investigate and prevent counterfeiting) had declined to pick up the case.
Beal said his main concern was that restitution be paid to two victimized businesses, Dollar General and CVS.
Middleton’s attorney, Brian Royster, indicated that his client, a now full-time student pursuing her Associate’s Degree in two disciplines, “no longer associates with any of those people involved.”
He stated that Middleton had no prior felony convictions nor any other pending charges here or any other state.
Presiding Judge Eric Morgan accepted the plea agreement and gave Middleton a suspended six- to 17-month sentence, pending the successful completion of 18 months of unsupervised probation.
She was ordered to pay $600 in restitution and return to court in one year for a review of her case.
Other matters of the court addressed this term included:
• Misty Dawn Sechrist, 34, of Moonstruck Lane, Mount Airy, pleaded guilty to three lesser counts of attempted trafficking in opium or heroin, and pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a schedule II controlled substance, one count of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a schedule III controlled substance, two counts of sale or delivery of a schedule II controlled substance and sale or delivery schedule III controlled substance.
Two counts of conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance were dismissed through a plea agreement. Sechrist was given an active sentence of 19 to 32 months to be followed by a suspended sentence of 19 to 32 months pending the successful completion of 30 months of supervised probation. She was also ordered to serve 24 hours of community service within 60 days of the beginning of the probationary period.
• Juan Megual Alexander, 27, of South Street, Elkin, was imprisoned for 13 to 25 months after his probation was revoked. Alexander had been placed on supervised probation for 36 months for a June 2013 conviction for second-degree burglary. His sentence was activated after pleading guilty to new felony and misdemeanor violations on Sept. 8.
Those included a lesser charge of solicitation to possess or distribute a methamphetamine precursor and guilty to simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
The new charges were consolidated under the felony violation and Alexander was ordered to be imprisoned for seven to 18 months, to be served concurrently with the probation revocation, for which he was also credited with 415 days served.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.