HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. - An executive at Food Lion's corporate office appeared in a Hendersonville court Friday after he was arrested in a sting and charged with a sex offense.
Detectives from the Hendersonville Police Department took Paul Robert LaCroix, 54, into custody Wednesday following the investigation.
LaCroix, from Concord, has been charged with conspiracy to commit a first-degree statutory sex offense. He was released Wednesday after being held in the Henderson County Detention Center under a $100,000 secured bond.
Investigators said LaCroix, a vice president with Food Lion, was communicating with someone he thought was an underage girl online and attempted to meet her for sex, but the girl was a law enforcement officer, police said. According to officials with the Hendersonville police, LaCroix drove 100 miles for the meeting.
Hendersonville police Capt. Chris LeRoy said this is a reminder for parents to keep an eye on their children's online activity.
"Know and understand your children's internet usage, whether it be through social media or mobile devices, computers. Understand where they've been and make sure you monitor their activities," LeRoy said.
Neighbors in LaCroix’s Concord neighborhood told Channel 9 that they’re appalled by the allegations against him.
"This is a kid-friendly neighborhood,” a neighbor said. “To think that somebody one street over would think that he would try to be with a child is just disgusting.”
Others in the community said they weren’t surprised by the accusations against someone of LaCroix’s status.
"People in higher up positions think they might be able to get away with it,” neighbor Kathy Maroney said. “They think they're above the law in some instances.”
Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake said people from all walks of life have been caught for similar crimes.
"We don't know who we are dealing with and we're not surprised it could be anybody, and that includes executives," Blake said.
Officers are continuing their investigation after they took LaCroix's computers and cellphone.
A spokesperson for Food Lion confirmed that LaCroix was a vice president of the company and is no longer employed at Food Lion.
LaCroix said he plans to hire his own attorney. He's due back in court in three weeks.
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