District Attorney David Learner issues statement about employee

Staff Writer

District Attorney David Learner issued a statement about an employee of the DA's office.
The O-N-E will have more on this as the story unfolds.

David Learner's statement-

"On Tuesday evening (April 24, 2018), I became aware that there was a Felony Larceny warrant from 1985 that is pending on Bobby Lee Powell, 75 years of age.

My understanding is that the charges arose during the time that Mr. Powell separated from his first wife. Mr. Powell has been instructed to voluntarily turn himself in and be served with this warrant that has been unserved for 32 years.

Mr. Powell is employed on a part-time basis (15 hours per week) in the District Attorney’s Office for Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties. His job duties include assisting investigators for the District Attorney’s Office to locate crime victims and other witnesses. Mr. Powell has been employed with the District Attorney’s Office since Jan. 1, 2015, and his job performance for the State of North Carolina has been excellent.

On Wednesday morning (April 25, 2018), I contacted the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and requested an Assistant District Attorney from a different Prosecutorial District handle every aspect of this matter in order to avoid any possible conflict of interest. This was done pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 7A-64. David F. Hoke, Assistant Director of the AOC, approved the temporary assignment of an Assistant District Attorney from Prosecutorial District 22A (Iredell and Alexander counties) to handle this case.

Mr. Powell has been suspended without pay until this matter is resolved.

This warrant never came up during the administration of three prior District Attorneys (Bob Thomas, David Flaherty and Jay Gaither) or during the administration of former Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman.

The warrant has been dormant for more than three decades, even though Mr. Powell has lived in Catawba and Burke counties all of his life and could be readily located. He worked at the management level for many years with some of the most prominent textile industries in this area and was an exemplary employee.

The elected Sheriff of Catawba County, Coy Reid, personally called Mr. Powell and demanded he turn himself in on this warrant. I question the timing of the service of this warrant, and I believe that this is a clear political ploy."