RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One current and another former Wayne County sheriff’s deputy was indicted for 12 separate fraud charges, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced on Tuesday.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Aug. 17 for 48-year-old Michael Kenneth Cox and 52-year-old Christopher C. Worth on charges stemming from an alleged scheme to steer contracts for Wayne County Sheriff’s Office vehicles to a business owned by Cox and employing Worth, prosecutors said.
This was regardless of whether Cox’s company provided such work at the lowest price as required by the Wayne County procurement requirements.
Cox worked for the WCSO from 1996 until he retired as the head of the drug unit in 2018, while Worth joined the sheriff’s office in 1993 and currently serves as a major, prosecutors said.
Along with the fraud charges, Cox was indicted for conspiring with multiple drug traffickers to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone and two counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to prosecutors.
“Law enforcement officers take an oath to protect and serve our communities by upholding the rule of law,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said in a released statement. “Our office will continue to hold accountable those who violate the public trust and abuse their position for personal gain.”
Sheriff Larry M. Pierce provided the following statement:
Earlier today, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a press release indicating that a current and former Wayne County deputy had been charged with numerous federal charges. Sheriff Larry Pierce was not made aware of the specific charges until the U.S. Attorney’s press release.
Wayne County and the Sheriff’s Office were notified in the Fall of 2021 of an ongoing federal investigation. The County, Sheriff’s Office, and all employees fully cooperated with the investigation and provided all information that was requested from authorities. After learning of the investigation, the Wayne County Finance Department and the Sheriff’s Office implemented immediate corrective action.
Major Chris Worth has been placed on administrative leave without pay, pending the outcome of the charges.
Wayne County and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office will continue to cooperate with any requests from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.