Burke Co. deputy arrested for trading drugs for sexual favors, officials say



BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - State agents arrested a deputy who's accused of trading drugs for sexual favors.

Eyewitness News spoke with a number of sheriff deputies in Burke County who were surprised to hear the news of Robert Whisnant's arrest. Several people who live in the area where he patrolled also said they were stunned.

“He's always been good and fair to everyone in the community,” area resident Kimberly Lail said.

Kimberly and Robert Lail said they still can't believe Robert Whisnant is accused of trading drugs for sexual favors.

He is charged with possession of a controlled substance. According to the arrest warrant, that was one and half tablets of the pain killer hydrocodone. 

The sheriff said he first learned of the allegations three weeks ago, and he immediately called in the SBI. The sheriff fired Whisnant Monday.

“It is disheartening to have to arrest one of your own,” Sheriff Steve Whisenant said. “However, the sheriff’s office expects professionalism and integrity, and this kind of conduct demands the action we took.”

By mid-morning, fellow deputies had gone to Whisnant's home to remove his uniforms, department-issued firearms and badge.  

The sheriff told Channel 9 he believes there was more than one incident involving drugs being traded for sexual favors, but that they did not happen while he was on duty. 

Other deputies will now take over Whisnant's cases while the district attorney decides whether to prosecute him. 

Gary Styles owns a business near Hildebran and said Whisnant did a good job keeping people safe. 

“(I’m) real surprised,” Styles said. “Robert is a real good guy. A super good guy.”

Whisnant is out on bond but is scheduled to go before a judge in Morganton on Wednesday.