Four of six men indicted as part of a police corruption investigation in Cherryville pleaded guilty in federal court.
David Paul Mauney, Casey Crawford, Wes Golden and Mark Hoyle pleaded guilty to conspiracy and extortion charges connected to a scheme to provide armed protection across Gaston County for goods they believed were stolen. Hoyle also pleaded guilty to money laundering.
Hoyle and Goldon, a former reserve deputy with the Gaston County Sheriff's Office, were brought into federal court in handcuffs. Former Cherryville police officers Crawford and Mauney had previously been released from jail on bond.
In October, FBI agents raided the Cherryville Police Department after an undercover sting paid bribes to current and former officers. Agents said they offered to escort shipments of stolen goods and make sure they weren't stopped as they made their way across Gaston County.
In court Thursday, prosecutors told a federal magistrate that some of the defendants are now cooperating with the investigation.
However, the potential prison time they face is significant. Mauney, Crawford and Golden face a maximum of 25 years in prison along with a potential fine of $250,000. Hoyle has a maximum sentence of 45 years.
Two other suspects, Frankie Dellinger, named by federal agents as the scheme's ringleader, and John Hendricks, also face charges in the case.
Sentencing for those who pleaded guilty Thursday will be done by a federal judge later this year.