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District Attorney Waters Addresses Granville Sheriff Investigation

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-Press Release, Office of District Attorney Michael D. Waters

Statement of District Attorney Michael D. Waters 

As reported, the Grand Jury of Granville County returned indictments on Monday, September 16, 2019, against Sheriff Brindell Wilkins for felony obstruction of justice. The investigation that led to these indictments has been led by Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman at my request, beginning in November of 2018. My request of Ms. Freeman came following conversations with the State Bureau of Investigation and Ms. Freeman, with the intent of avoiding any conflict that may arise by my being involved in this matter as a witness. 

In 2014, while I was still in private practice, a client provided to me a recording that I immediately turned over to investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and subsequently provided to the State Bureau of Investigation.

At all times since then, I have cooperated with investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority. I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious. 

As District Attorney for Granville County, I am concerned with the allegations set forth in the indictments against Sheriff Wilkins. Any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, especially when they involve the elected Sheriff in whom the community has placed its trust. The justice system must be fair and impartial. No one is above the law. 

Over the next few months, my office will continue to aid the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law, and seeing that justice is administered.

Murder Plot of Former Granville Co. Deputy Results in Indictment for Sheriff

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In a move that has shocked the local community, Granville County’s Grand Jury returned indictments Monday against Sheriff Brindell Wilkins for two counts of felony obstruction of justice.

Sheriff Wilkins, who has served as Granville County Sheriff since 2009 and was recently reelected in 2018, will now stand trial on charges stemming from a recorded conversation in 2014 with an unidentified individual regarding the potential homicide of former Granville County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Freeman.

The outcome of the indictment follows an investigation that began in November 2018 when the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) received a recording provided by District Attorney Michael D. Waters. DA Water serves the 9th Prosecutorial District, including Granville, Vance, Warren, Franklin and Person counties.

In a letter to the Honorable N. Lorrin Freeman, district attorney of Wake County, dated November 14, 2018, DA Waters states that while still in private practice as an attorney in 2014, he received a recording believed to involve Sheriff Wilkins, while representing Joshua Freeman as a client.

Believing he had a conflict in the matter, DA Waters requested that DA Freeman adopt the case.

In response, DA Freeman stated in a letter to the SBI that the recording “contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County Sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.”

The discussed homicide was not carried out.

According to a press release provided by DA Freeman’s office, Sheriff Wilkins was voluntarily served with the indictments by agents with the SBI, assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and processed on the charges.

The Bill of Indictment, which is now a matter of public record, indicates that on or about August 12, 2014, Sheriff Wilkins “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did obstruct public and legal justice by withholding knowledge of credible threat made by an individual known to the Sheriff to imminently kill Joshua Freeman at a certain place and time in Granville County.”

“Defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman, who defendant was told had expressed an intention to publicly disclose to authorities a purported audio recording of the defendant using racially offensive language.”

The indictment bill further states that Sheriff Wilkins expressly encouraged the individual also involved in the conversation to “take care of it” and “if you need to take care of somethin’, you just take care of something” and that “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him,” in regards to Joshua Freeman.

Sheriff Wilkins further appears to counsel the individual on how to commit the murder in a manner as to avoid identification including informing him that “you ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on” and “the only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody nothin’, not a thing.”

Sheriff Wilkins then appeared to provide assurances to the individual that he would not reveal to any investigation authorities, thought to be the Granville County Sheriff’s Office investigators, any prior knowledge he had as to the individual’s expressed intention to kill Joshua Freeman, according to the bill.

Following the indictment, Sheriff Wilkins appeared before a magistrate and was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.

Granville County Manager Michael Felts and County Attorney James C. Wrenn, Jr. were notified by Sheriff Wilkins of his indictment on two counts of obstruction of justice Monday afternoon after 5 p.m., according to a press release issued by Wrenn’s office.

The press release also states that Wrenn was called by DA Freeman yesterday at approximately 5:30 p.m. and briefed on the charges.

The Granville County Board of Commissioners, though lacking supervisory authority over the Sheriff, were also notified yesterday evening and held an emergency called meeting at 7:30 a.m. this morning to discuss the matter.

“As this situation unfolds, the Board hopes that all parties involved remember that the focus must remain on the welfare of the citizens of Granville County. All involved must prioritize the need to maintain the public trust and faith in the effective and unbiased enforcement of laws and administration of justice in Granville County. Like all people charged with a criminal offense, Sheriff Wilkins is entitled to a presumption of innocence,” the release states.

Sheriff Wilkins first court date will be October 9, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. in Granville County.

Decisions about Sheriff Wilkin’s position, particularly if he will remain on-duty, remain unknown at this time. As would be the case in this incident, a change to an elected official’s status is subject to a judiciary process.

A second investigation into allegations concerning the Granville County Sheriff’s Office’s accounting practices and controlled substance interdiction efforts remains pending.

A press conference will be held by Attorney Wrenn today (Tuesday, September 17, 2019) at 4 p.m. at the Granville Expo & Convention Center in the auditorium. The Granville Expo & Convention Center is located at 4185 Highway 15 South, Oxford, NC  27565.

WIZS will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Wilkins, Granville Narcotics & Interstate Interdiction Under Investigation

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A recent indictment of Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins for his alleged role in the potential homicide plot of a former sheriff’s deputy is not the only concern for the man who has been sheriff since 2009.

In a second, pending North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) matter, Sheriff Wilkins, the Granville County Narcotics Division and the Interstate Interdiction Team are under investigation for allegations of financial wrongdoing, according to a letter sent by District Attorney Michael D. Waters to the SBI in March.

Waters serves as DA for the 9th Prosecutorial District which includes Granville County.

WIZS will provide additional information as it becomes available.

 

Granville’s Tourism Development Authority Awarded for Marketing Campaign

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-Press Release, Granville County Government

The Granville County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) has received a top honor for marketing from the North Carolina Travel Industry Association. The TDA earned the coveted platinum award in the Community Relations category for its innovative approach to communicating and building relationships within a community.

The partnership between the TDA and members of the community was the result of a recent re-branding effort, in which the tourism brand “Uniquely Carolina” was created for Granville County Tourism’s new marketing campaign.

As part of the re-branding process, the TDA and the Hughes Marketing Group (brand consultant) interviewed over 100 county stakeholders for their ideas and input. Focus groups were also incorporated, with more than 650 completing surveys online and through intercepts.

A final community outreach session, broadcast on Facebook Live, reached an additional 680 people who viewed the presentation on social media, with more than 60 people in attendance to see the results of the marketing campaign in person. Attendees included representatives of the tourism industry and the TDA Board, as well as interested residents and government/community leaders.

“Tourism is not the charge of a single person or department,” says Angela Allen, Executive Director of the TDA. “Everyone in a community impacts and is part of attracting visitors, and – more importantly – greeting, interacting with and making a visit to the community either positive or negative.”

“The primary challenge,” she added, “was to get folks to partner with us in developing our new brand. In the process, we broke through walls by incorporating our stakeholders in this effort. This award validates the community approach we used to promote tourism in Granville County.”

For more information on this community relations effort and the re-branding of Granville County Tourism, contact Allen by email at [email protected] or by phone at 919-693-6125. Those interested can also visit the new website at www.visitgranvillenc.com

To learn more about the North Carolina Travel Industry Association, visit nctia.travel.

Granville Sheriff Brindell Wilkins Indicted for Obstruction of Justice

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-Press Release, Wake County District Attorney’s Office

On Monday, the Grand Jury of Granville County returned indictments against elected Sheriff Brindell Wilkins for two counts of felony obstruction of justice. These charges come following a ten-month investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at the request of Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.

District Attorney Freeman adopted the case at the request of District Attorney Mike Waters, whose district includes Granville County, following a determination by Waters that he had a conflict in the matter.

Wilkins was voluntarily served with the indictments by agents with the State Bureau of Investigation, assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and processed on the charges. He appeared before a magistrate and released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.

His first court date will be October 9, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. in Granville County.

A second investigation into allegations concerning the Granville County Sheriff’s Office’s accounting practices and controlled substance interdiction efforts remains pending.

WIZS will bring you more on this story as it develops.

Granville Heritage Association to Hold Annual Harvest Show

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-Information courtesy the Granville County Chamber of Commerce

The Lord Granville Agricultural Heritage Association will hold its 13th Annual Harvest Show featuring lawn and garden tractors October 4-5, 2019, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the corner of 12th and G Streets in Butner, NC.

Highlights include antique tractors and equipment, food, tractor games, Mama’s Kitchen old-time cooking, antique homestead display, a blacksmith at work, farm shop, free games and rides for children and other vendors.

A tractor parade will go through town on Saturday.

Daily admission $5; Two-Day admission $8. Children under 12 are free. Family rate is available.

Proceeds support the Heritage Association’s scholarship program.

For exhibitor information, contact Al Gulvin at (919) 528-1652. For vendor information, contact James Adams at (919) 575-6043.

For additional information, visit www.lgaha.com.

Granville Shrine Club to Hold Fall Fish Fry

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-Information courtesy Randy Newman, Granville County Shrine Club

It’s fish fry time again! The Granville County Shrine Club will hold a fish fry on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Shrine Club on Roxboro Road in Oxford. Proceeds will benefit the Shriners Hospital.

Eat-in or take out plates available for $8. Plates include fish, slaw, potato salad and hushpuppies.

FLVF to Hold Candlelight Vigil for Domestic Violence Victims

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-Information courtesy Peggy Roark, Sexual Assault Advocate & PREA Coordinator, Families Living Violence Free

Please join Families Living Violence Free as we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month with our annual candlelight vigil to honor Granville County survivors and victims who have lost their lives as a result of family violence.

We will honor and celebrate their lives with a vigil that will take place in front of the office of Families Living Violence Free located at 125 Oxford Outer Loop Road in Oxford on Thursday, October 3, 2019, from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided by WIN of Creedmoor.

For further information, please call FLVF at (919) 693-3579.

 

Granville Co. Economic Development Advisory Board to Meet Bi-Monthly

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-Information courtesy Debra A. Weary, Clerk to the Board/Assistant to the County Manager

The Granville County Economic Development Advisory Board will now meet bi-monthly instead of quarterly as previously advertised.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. at the Granville County Economic Development Department located at 310 Williamsboro Street, Oxford, NC.

Creedmoor Music Festival to Offer Eight Bands on Two Stages, 100+ Vendors

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-Information courtesy City of Creedmoor

The 28th annual Creedmoor Music Festival will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2019, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Main Street in Creedmoor, NC.

Main Street Creedmoor will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. from W. Lyon Street to Park Avenue for the safety of festival attendees.

The highlight of the annual Creedmoor Music Festival is, of course, the music! Enjoy local performances on two stages by Rhythm Express Band of Rocky Mount, Buckshot Betty, The Invaders Band, GrassStreet, Tim Cifers, River Ratz, Tyler Kinchen & the Right Pieces and Cumberland County Line Bluegrass.

Over 100 local craft and food vendors will be in attendance, including two local craft breweries.

Josh Chapin, with ABC11 Eyewitness News, will be the guest emcee.

Parking is available at South Granville High School with a complimentary shuttle service running every 15 minutes beginning at 9:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

For additional information, including the no pet policy and how to purchase a festival t-shirt, please visit the City of Creedmoor’s Music Festival page by clicking here.