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Former Wayne County deputy pleads guilty to drug trafficking charges

From Wayne County Sheriff's Office Facebook

The former head of the drug unit at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has pled guilty for his role in a drug ring.

Michael Cox, age 49, was employed by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office from 1996 until he retired as the head of the drug unit in 2018, and has pled guilty to charges related to the sale of cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, and marijuana.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael Easley said Cox he helped various drug traffickers in Wayne County evade charges, and, in one instance, he intercepted a drug trafficker who had made a purchase from the target of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation.

"Law enforcement officers are entrusted with an incredible responsibility to serve our communities and ensure justice. Anyone who takes advantage of their position for personal gain or in persistence of criminal activity must and will be held accountable," said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Robert M. DeWitt.

Easley's office said that as a leader of the drug unit, Cox’s job was to put drug traffickers behind bars, not go into business with them.

Cox also pled guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge; he and co-defendant Christopher Worth were accused of steering work on squad cars to a business in Goldsboro owned by Cox and managed by Worth, who was also employed by the county.

Court documents show the bid-rigging scheme fraudulently directed more than $150,000 in county contracts to the business owned by Cox.

When sentenced, Cox faces up to 20 years for each charge.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to eastern North Carolina in 2019 to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of kiddo cuddling, reading, and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to westona@cravencc.edu.