Ex-Law Enforcement Officers Sentenced
Jul. 20, 2002
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) _ Four former law enforcement officers were sentenced Friday to terms ranging from 31 months to 27 years in prison on drug conspiracy charges that have led to the dismissal of more than 30 cases.
The law officers along with two other men were arrested last December and pleaded guilty in March to various conspiracy and extortion charges. The officers were fired last year.
Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank said his office has dismissed drug charges against more than 30 people because the deputies were involved in the cases.
``The most damaging thing is the general reputation of law enforcement is hurt among people here,'' he said. ``It's given a bad image to law enforcement that a lot of people are working to overcome.''
David Woodall, a former Davidson County sheriff's lieutenant, was sentenced Friday to 27 years in prison on charges of extortion and conspiring to distribute cocaine, marijuana, Ecstasy and anabolic steroids.
``It's not the rest of your life, but it's a substantial part of it,'' U.S. District Judge William Osteen told the 35-year-old Woodall.
Woodall, who apologized to the judge, said he had a religious conversion after his arrest and blamed much of his problems on steroid use.
``I realize that I've ruined my life and the lives of a lot of other people,'' he said.
Woodall's lawyer Gene Metcalf, said his client was a highly regarded officer who had been left undercover and unsupervised for too long.
Former Lt. Douglas Westmoreland was sentenced to 11 years and three months, while former Sgt. William Rankin, who cooperated with federal investigators, received a two-year, seven-month term.
Former Archdale police Sgt. Christopher Shetley and two other men, Marco Aurelio Acosta-Soza, and Wyatt Kepley, received terms ranging from 34 months to 6 1/2 years.
Sheriff Gerald Hege's department has gained national publicity because of his paramilitary approach to law enforcement. Hege's officers wear combat boots and black berets and Hege works out of an office decorated like a military bunker.
The department did not return a call seeking comment Friday.