NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A man committed to putting people behind bars was booked into New Hanover County Detention Center Monday night.
A Grand Jury decided to indict former Lt. Joseph LeBlanc on 108 criminal charges. A judge said Monday that LeBlanc would be held in a separate jail, likely Wake County, for his own safety.
LeBlanc was fired from the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office in June for violating procedures on the handling of drugs in the office.
He has been charged with the following:
- 28 counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud
- 4 counts of embezzlement
- 4 counts of altering or stealing or destroying evidence
- 4 counts of obstruction of justice
- 4 counts of obtaining property by false pretense
- 43 counts of trafficking
- 21 counts of misdemeanor drug possession
The Deputy Attorney General said in court that LeBlanc had been shortchanging the evidence room for two years and used a judge's order for a legitimate drug buy, then forged signatures for 28 others.
Bond was set at $500,000. The judge said he would be willing to reconsider the amount if LeBlanc could be in a 24/7 treatment of some sort.
LeBlanc's attorneys said this dark two-year period took his client to rock bottom, and he went to rehab in California. LeBlanc took rehab seriously after losing his badge, according to his attorneys.
Sheriff Ed McMahon said, however, "Neither I nor my staff have ever had any credible information that LeBlanc attended any drug rehabilitation center."
McMahon went on to say that LeBlanc was questioned by a staff member in March of 2013, in which he "adamantly denied any drug rehabilitation."
According to the sheriff, LeBlanc had never failed a drug test prior to June 2013. He was given and passed random tests in 2011 and 2012.
District Attorney Ben David said his office could not handle the case because three senior prosecutors had to be interviewed for the investigation. The DA referenced another vice-narcotics case that happened earlier this year during a press conference.
He said an officer's integrity can be challenged through an internal investigation, through his office or it can go before a Grand Jury.
"It's cost officers' their careers, as happened with Andrew Lazzaro," he said. "And it costs officers' their freedom in cases like Joseph LeBlanc. That's not anything we welcome or celebrate but sometimes it's necessary."
The SBI completed its investigation on LeBlanc back in July and handed the case over to the Attorney General's Special Prosecutor.
Based on a preliminary look, District Attorney Ben David said LeBlanc's actions impacted several cases, both pending and closed. As of Monday, at least 8 cases had been dismissed since the start of the investigation.
According to McMahon, deputies within the unit reported LeBlanc in June. He said they started to notice irregularities in his actions that led them to question things that had happened in the months prior, so they looked into it further which led to an internal investigation.
According to a disciplinary action charge sheet, LeBlanc was found in violation of "truthfulness; evidence procedures; and drug policy." Basically, the lieutenant was fired for violating procedures on the handling of drugs in the office.
"I would like to reiterate that our own internal safeguards brought this to my attention," said McMahon. "I acted swiftly and decisively by contacting the D.A.'s Office and the S.B.I. as well as terminating LeBlanc's employment."