Former probation officer James David Franklin sent to prison

Lenoir man extorted drugs from probationers
Apr. 27, 2013 @ 08:13 AM

A former probation officer from Lenoir was sentenced Thursday to 17 months in federal prison plus three years on probation for coercing people he was supervising to get drugs for him.

James David Franklin, 46, of 3973 Callie Court, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Asheville in December 2011 to one count of extortion and possession with intent to distribute hydrocodone. He has been jailed since April 2012, so he will actually serve five more months behind bars.

Franklin is accused of getting people on probation whom he was supervising in Burke and Caldwell counties to get drugs for him between July 2009 to July 2010. Franklin repeatedly asked one probationer to supply him with narcotics, including methamphetamine and hydrocodone, and went to the probationer’s house and paid for them, court records show.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office was notified after the probationer complained to his federal probation officer and his primary state probation officer. Franklin was placed on desk duty during the investigation. He contacted the probationer to arrange another drug buy, saying he would pay the probationer $3 each for 125 hydrocodone pills. Officers were waiting to arrest Franklin when he went to the house to complete the deal on July 8, 2010.

A federal grand jury indicted Franklin in August 2011 on four counts of extortion and one count of possession with intent to distribute drugs.

Franklin had worked as a surveillance officer by the N.C. Department of Correction's Division of Community Corrections (now the Division of Adult Correction) since April 2001 seeing probationers on intensive supervision. Those people are required to submit to certain rules, including being seen several times a week by a probation officer, having to be home at a specific period each day, and having a job or going to school.