On March 30, a grand jury in Johnston County, North Carolina indicted a former prosecutor, a former court clerk, and four defense attorneys on charges that they had been fixing DUI cases.
Those indicted in the case were former Assistant District Attorney Cyndi Jaeger, former assistant court clerk Portia Snead, and defense attorneys Chadwick Lee, Jonathan Lee Hatch, Jack McLamb, and Vann Sauls.
Jaeger has been charged with three felony counts of obstruction of justice and could face 81 misdemeanor counts of failure to perform her duty of office. Snead has been charged with six counts of altering official case records, felony obstruction of justice, and illegally accessing a government computer. Lee has been charged with 65 counts of altering official case records, felony obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. Hatch has been charged with 30 counts of altering official case records and felony obstruction of justice. Sauls has been charged with 11 counts of altering official case records, felony obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. May 4 is the date the possible charges are expected to be discussed by a grand jury.
In 2008, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle requested that the State Bureau of Investigation look into the county’s high rate of drunken-driving cases being dismissed. Raleigh, NC TV station WRAL conducted its own investigation and learned that in 2006, 46 percent of the DUI charges filed in Johnston County had been dismissed, in comparison to 20 percent in neighboring Wake County and 21 percent statewide.
According to Doyle, a tracking system installed in October 2007 discovered multiple discrepancies in cases that had been scheduled to go to trial, but were dismissed months earlier.
According to sources, Jaeger provided at least one defense attorney with a stack of signed dismissal forms, forms which continued to be used in cases after she left the Johnston County prosecutor’s office in September 2007. She later found employment as an assistant district attorney in Randolph County, but left that position on March 25.
The prosecution of the case will be handled by the Attorney General’s Office.