NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – A Pamlico County commissioner and nine others were arrested as part of a human trafficking investigation, the Craven County Sheriff’s Office said.
Kenneth Heath, 46, is a Pamlico County Commissioner and has previously worked part-time as a law enforcement officer with the Sheriff’s Office. Pamlico County’s website lists him as representing Township 5.
Heath has been charged with attempting to patronize a prostitute, and his law enforcement certification with the Craven County Sheriff’s Office has been terminated, the office said. He also held a part-time position with the Bridgeton Police Department.
Augustus McCraney Jr., 25, of Havelock; Milton Tripp, 31, of Morehead City; Kevin Curtis, 51, of Havelock and Ron Riley, 23, of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point were all also charged with attempting to patronize a prostitute, according to deputies.
Those suspects were arrested after they responded to posts for prostitution and similar services on the social media site Backpage.com, the Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office made those posts in an attempt to catch a sexual assault suspect.
That suspect did respond to the posts and has been arrested.
Kevin Smith, 42, of New Bern, faces the following charges according to deputies: patronize a prostitute, intimidating a state witness, first-degree forcible rape, common law robbery. For those charges, he was given a bond of $1 million.
He also faces a second charge first-degree forcible rape, and was given a bond of $1 million for that as well.
As part of the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation, deputies also arrested Michael Miller, 44, and Alvin Wright, 42, both of New Bern, and charged them with human trafficking-adult victim for sexual servitude, promote prostitution for profits, and promote prostitution-advance.
The Sheriff’s Office also has warrants for Paula Vanhorn, 50, of Chocowinity, and Jimmy Stokes, 27, on charges of human trafficking an adult victim for sexual servitude, according to deputies.
Miller was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail. Wright is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.