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New phase for Noblin probe

SoVaNow.com / September 24, 2012
It was in September a year ago that former Halifax County Sheriff Stanley Noblin first came under investigation for alleged misuse of funds set aside for drug enforcement efforts.

Soon, the public may find out what, if any, charges may result from the year-long probe.

“I suspect very shortly you’ll get the answer to that question,” said the special prosecutor in the case, Southampton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke, on Friday. He declined to discuss specifics.

But Cooke confirmed that Virginia State Police investigators have all but wrapped up the fact-finding part of the investigation, leaving it to Cooke to decide whether to press forward with charges. Since last fall, a State Police accountant has gained access to bank accounts that Noblin oversaw during his time in office, both personal and departmental.

Investigators have sought to establish what happened to tens of thousands of dollars in asset forfeiture funds that the Sheriff’s Office was supposed to spend on undercover drug investigations and other anti-drug initiatives. The probe also is looking into missing funds appropriated to the department by the Halifax County Board of Supervisors. A State Police affidavit from December 2011 offered an estimate of the unaccounted-for sums: $113,180.50.

Cooke, while cautioning the probe is “ongoing,” acknowledged that the focus is shifting away from information gathering.

“Every case continues up until it’s finished, and I don’t say we’ve ever got everything finished, but the bulk of that work has been done.” If the State Police isn’t 100 percent finished, “they’re very close,” he said.

Cooke was named special prosecutor in the case on Sept. 9, 2011 and the Virginia State Police was authorized to launch its investigation in a Sept. 29 letter from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.





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