by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHERRYVILLE, N.C. - An FBI raid of a police department could mean dozens of criminals face no punishment.
The raid happened in Cherryville on Wednesday. Police officers and a deputy were arrested for allegedly helping thieves.
There's no telling yet how far the FBI's investigation of corruption in Cherryville will reach, but Eyewitness News has learned the fallout will hit Gaston County's courthouse.
“I'm disgusted with what these people may have done,” said Locke Bell, the Gaston County district attorney.
Bell said late Thursday that he's now identified 83 criminal cases involving arrested Cherryville officers Frankie Dellinger, Casey Crawford and Trey Mauney. He fears many of them will have to be dismissed.
“I will not prosecute a case where the officer's testimony is necessary,” Bell said.
He said he has little choice.
The officers arrested when FBI agents swarmed Cherryville on Wednesday are charged with providing protection to the transport of stolen goods.
Their credibility in any arrests they've made is now in question.
In Cherryville, that means cases including drunk driving will be thrown out, even if the suspects might actually be guilty.
That's adding insult to the injury Cherryville's reputation is already suffering.
“If you can't trust the cops, who can you trust?” said Cherryville resident Josh Bartley.
Bell said even past convictions may be reviewed.
“We don’t want anyone to have been convicted of something that is tainted,” Bell said.
He said it pains him to think about dismissing the cases, but he will begin looking at them one at a time immediately and could begin dropping charges soon.
The six men arrested are appearing in court Friday.