North Carolina Police Chief & City Manager Arrested for Hiding Drugs & Records

(Left to Right) Red Springs Police Chief Ronnie Patterson and Town Manager Davis Ashburn

This police chief took extreme measures to cover up his dirt.

The police chief of a small North Carolina town was arrested Tuesday for hiding images of nude women, narcotics, and firearms in rental storage units he owned. Additionally, the chief hid personnel records relating to a sexual harassment case in which the chief was a subject of.

Red Springs Police Chief Ronnie Patterson and Town Manager Davis Ashburn were arrested on charges including unlawful removal of public records. Ashburn assisted the chief in hiding his personnel file.

The investigation reveals that Patterson had previously rented three storage units at Highway 211 Mini Storage Unit in Red Spring, NC WRAL News reports.

When Patterson's past due rental fees reached $3,151, the content of his units were sold off by Mini Storage Unit. Items discovered by the new owner included crime scene photos, firearms, narcotics, photos of various nude women, fingerprint files, criminal investigative files, handcuffs, ammunition, as well as the sexual harassment file relating to former employee Corena Locklear.

The Robeson County District Attorney's Office served Orders for Arrest on both Patterson and Asburn on Tuesday.

The investigation launched in the spring of 2018 when Patterson made a unsuccessful bid to run for sheriff.

Portions of Patterson's personnel file surfaced during his recent election campaign for Sheriff of Robeson County. Former Red Springs Mayor John McNeill alleged that personnel files had been removed from the town's human resources department, an investigation was then ordered by Robeson County District Attorney L. Johnson Britt, III.

The investigation revealed that two banker’s boxes were removed from the Red Springs Town hall vault during Patterson’s election campaign by Ashburn in violation of the North Carolina Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.

This retention and disposition schedule is governed by state law and compiled by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and Records.

The banker's boxes were unlawfully removed from Town Hall between January 1, 2018 and February 28, 2018 by both Ashburn and Patterson. State law prohibits town managers from having access to employee personnel records.

Patterson faces:

10 counts of unlawful removal of public records

10 counts of conspiracy to commit removal of public records

Ashburn faces:

10 counts of unlawful disposal of public records

10 counts of unlawful removal of public records

10 counts of conspiracy to commit removal of public records

The specific records relative to these violations include:

> "The sexual harassment investigative file on Welton Laranza Patterson (Ronnie Patterson) and Corena Locklear, a former employee of the Town of Red Springs, which includes case settlement information."

> "Documentation relative to the polygraph examination administered to Welton Laranza Patterson indicating ‘clear, consistent and remarkable physiological criteria indicative of deception’ in the sexual harassment investigation of Corena Locklear, a former employee of the Town of Red Springs."

> "Investigative file documentation relating to two (2) felonies of Accessory Before the Fact and Aiding and Abetting which were committed by Welton Laranza Patterson relative to a fraudulent Worker’s Compensation claim filed on behalf of Luke Humphrey, a former employee of the Town of Red Springs."

> "Documentation relative to the polygraph examination administered to Welton Laranza Patterson indicating ‘clear, consistent and remarkable physiological criteria indicative of deception’ in the case of two (2) felonies of Accessory Before the Fact and Aiding and Abetting which were committed by Welton Laranza Patterson relative to a fraudulent Worker’s Compensation claim filed on behalf of Luke Humphrey, a former employee of the Town of Red Springs."

> "Investigative file documentation relating to obstruction of justice committed by Welton Laranza Patterson relating to an investigation involving the United States Department of Justice; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."

> "Documentation relative to the polygraph examination administered to Welton Laranza Patterson in which he indicated deception in a case of obstruction of justice committed by Welton Laranza Patterson relating to an investigation involving the United States Department of Justice; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."

> "Federal litigation documents and court records in the case of Alma J. Brown, Administratrix of the Estate of Joseph Anthony Brown, plaintiff, versus Welton Laranza Patterson, individually and in his official capacity; and the Town of Red Springs, defendants, said case heard in United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina."

> "Records and documentation relating to complaints, investigations, actions, summary and disposition relating to disputed employee grievances against the Town of Red Springs, said employee being Welton Laranza Patterson."

> "Records and documentation relating to attorney - client communications regarding Welton Laranza Patterson’s separation from employment by the Town of Red Springs."

> "Records and documentation from both the Town of Red Springs as well as the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission relative to Welton Laranza Patterson’s separation from employment by the Town of Red Springs."

An investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are possible.

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