LINCOLNTON, N.C. — Former Catawba County sheriff candidate Jason Reid pleaded guilty in court Monday morning, more than a year after an ex-girlfriend accused him of placing a tracking device on her car.
Reid, a former captain with the Catawba County Sheriff’s Department, pleaded guilty to felony larceny by an employee, misdemeanor cyberstalking and willful failure to discharge duties.
The judge said the plea is part of an agreement that allows Reid to avoid jail time in exchange for being placed on probation and surrendering his law enforcement credentials.
Reid was indicted by a Lincoln County grand jury in June 2018 on felony and misdemeanor charges following an investigation after an ex-girlfriend claimed he had stalked her.
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The charges came after a monthslong investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations into the allegations after the woman claimed Reid installed a tracking device on her vehicle in 2017.
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Reid didn’t answer any of Channel 9's questions as he walked quickly into the courtroom Monday. Inside, a special prosecutor with the Attorney General's office told the judge that Reid placed a Catawba County Sheriff's Office tracking device on an ex-girlfriend's car after she started dating another man.
The prosecutor played video of a press conference where Reid placed the blame on his ex.
“I never placed a tracking device on that woman’s vehicle,” Reid said in the video. “Unfortunately, I’ve made some very powerful enemies in my career.”
At the time of the investigation, Reid was a supervisor over the narcotics division and was running to replace his father as sheriff -- a race he later lost.
The special prosecutor told the judge that Reid, at times, texted his ex letting her know he knew her location, and at one point sent a text of a photo of her car while tracking her.
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It is against the law to place a tracking device on someone’s car without first getting a court order.
Reid's attorney told Channel 9 Monday was a sad day for Reid and all of law enforcement, and proves that officers are human beings, adding that his client let his feelings get in the way of common sense.
Reid is the son of former Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid and worked in law enforcement for 22 years.
Last spring, a judge unsealed a search warrant used by the SBI at the Catawba County Sheriff’s Department. The warrant was heavily redacted, but said agents were looking for evidence of stalking, cyberstalking and of Reid "willfully failing to discharge the duties of his office."
It also referenced text messages from Reid to his ex's new boyfriend that detailed locations where he had been and a picture taken of his car while the couple ate at a restaurant.
On Monday, the judge ordered Reid to stay away from the victim and to perform 240 hours of community service and 30 months of supervised probation.
Statement from Catawba County Sheriff Don Brown:
“Today closes an unfortunate chapter which has (affected) the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement and the County as a whole.
"Events like this have a profound impact on the public’s trust in law enforcement. When I took office in December of last year, I immediately ordered an internal investigation into this matter and other allegations of criminal conduct.
"Today, with the conclusion of our investigations and the guilty plea in Lincoln County, we can now move forward. It has been and will continue to be a priority of mine to restore and build public trust and confidence in the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office.”
Cox Media Group