Jason Reid sentenced

ROBERT C. REED/HICKORY DAILY RECORD: Former Catawba County Sheriff's officer Jason Reid prepares to enter Lincoln County Superior Court Monday morning for his plea deal and sentencing by Superior Court Judge Forrest D. Bridges.

Jason Reid, a former Catawba County Sheriff’s Office captain and sheriff candidate, will have to surrender his law enforcement certification after pleading guilty to using a sheriff’s office tracking device to stalk his ex-girlfriend in 2017.

In addition to surrendering his law enforcement certification, Reid, 47, will be on supervised probation for the next 30 months and will have to complete 240 hours of community service. He will also have to surrender any firearms he owns and submit to drug testing. Reid is also not allowed to have any contact with the victim in this case.

On Monday in Lincoln County Superior Court, Reid pleaded guilty to one felony count of larceny and one misdemeanor count each of cyberstalking and willfully failing to discharge duties.

Reid was originally charged with one felony count of embezzlement by a local officer, one felony count of larceny and one misdemeanor count each of cyberstalking, stalking and willfully failing to discharge duties in June 2018.

As part of the plea hearing, Special Prosecutor Boz Zellinger with the state attorney general’s office gave facts of the case, which included insight about the day the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant on the sheriff’s office on April 19, 2018.

Facts of the case, per Zellinger in open court

» On Aug. 2, 2017, Reid’s ex-girlfriend, Erica Sigmon, 25, was out to dinner with her boyfriend when she received a text message from Reid with a photo of her car parked at her boyfriend’s house in Lincoln County. This text message was shown in court and the timestamp of the photo and the message matched Sigmon’s statement to investigators.

» When Sigmon returned to her boyfriend’s house, a friend found the tracking device on her vehicle. The authorities were notified and the case was eventually handed over to the SBI.

» Sigmon and Reid met due to her family having a longstanding relationship with Reid. Sigmon’s mother used to work as a drug informant for the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit.

» Sigmon and Reid had dated for more than a year when they broke up in early 2017.

» Prior to finding the tracking device on her vehicle, Reid had been texting Sigmon asking where she was and he was in contact with her sister. Reid also expressed a desire to get back together with her and sent her flowers on her birthday in May 2017. The invoice for the flowers and examples of those text messages were shown in court.

» With help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, SBI officials were able to determine where the tracking device came from. Reid’s uncle owns the company that sold tracking devices to the sheriff's office.

» With more investigation, SBI officials discovered the sheriff’s office had purchased three tracking devices from this company and one had gone missing around the same time Sigmon found a tracking device on her vehicle. Reid’s signature was on the invoice for the devices.

» Zellinger said Reid called a friend in law enforcement, told him what he did and asked if it was illegal. That friend told him his actions were illegal. Reid called him again later and said he made sure he wouldn’t be caught. Reid also told this friend he did not place the tracking device on the vehicle, and he would take the name of the person who did it for him to the grave.

» In the meantime, Zellinger said a Newton Police officer received a request from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office to recover a tracking device from a vehicle. The officer thought the request was odd and declined to help.

» On April 19, 2018, SBI conducted a search warrant on the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office. Zellinger said Reid’s father, Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid, made the search difficult on investigators and essentially threatened the deputies there not to speak to investigators.

» It took several weeks before a few deputies felt comfortable enough to speak to the SBI because they were afraid they would lose their jobs.

» It took a “Herculean effort” for investigators to obtain evidence in the case due to the protection surrounding Reid, Zellinger said.

» Zellinger said Reid placing the device on Sigmon's car without a warrant infringed on her Constitutional rights. 

» Once records were obtained, FBI analysts were able to map Reid was in Hickory when he received a message from the tracking device notifying him Sigmon’s car was in Lincoln County.

In addition to the facts of the case and examples of the evidence being shown in court, Zellinger also played clips of a press conference Reid gave the day before the May 8, 2018, Republican Primary Election. In those clips, Reid said Sigmon was the one who wanted to get back together and indicated she stole the tracking device from his office.

Zellinger said Sigmon did nothing wrong.

“(Reid) could not comprehend that he didn’t own her,” Zellinger said.

Zellinger went on to mention that during Reid’s 22 years as a law enforcement officer, he had been barred from testifying in Catawba, Caldwell and Burke counties. He was also banned from testifying in federal court due to an incident earlier in his career.

Sigmon, who was present in court, did not issue a statement. However, Zellinger said Reid revealing her identity during the live press conference to thousands of people resulted in her being “scorned by the community.”

Before sentencing, Reid’s attorney David Teddy said this was a sad day for Reid and law enforcement and that this is a reminder that law enforcement officers are human beings and Reid let his feelings get in the way of doing the right thing.

“(Reid) let his daddy down,” Teddy said. “He’s let his family down, and he’s let his fellow law enforcement officers down."

Superior Court Judge Forrest Bridges asked Teddy what Reid’s plans were, and Teddy said the future is uncertain for Reid at the moment.

Per the plea agreement, Reid will not face any additional charges in relation to this incident. He will have to pay probation and community service fees. Reid’s community service must be completed within the next 12 months and his law enforcement certification must be surrendered this week.

Reid had no prior convictions and that factored into his sentencing. He faced a maximum punishment of three and a half months in prison, but was given a suspended sentence of six to 17 months and 30 months supervised probation.

As they left the courtroom, Reid and Sigmon declined to comment.

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Jordan Hensley is the court reporter at the Hickory Daily Record. ​

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