Barber suspect in shoplifting of wine

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SALISBURY — Rowan County Commissioner Jon Barber is the subject of an SBI investigation related to the April 10 theft of a bottle of wine from a local convenience store, the SBI told the Post this afternoon.
In response to a question from the Post, Jennifer Canada, an assistant public information officer in the Attorney General’s Office, wrote:
“On April 11, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook requested the SBI conduct an investigation into a suspected larceny that occurred at a Salisbury convenience store on Sunday morning, April 10, 2011. The reported suspect in the matter was William S. ‘Jon’ Barber. Mr. Barber is a Rowan County commissioner. The investigation is ongoing.”
The Post is trying to reach Barber for his response. He has not returned telephone calls this afternoon.
According to a police report, the investigation involves a $2.99 bottle of wine stolen around 6 a.m. April 10 — a Sunday morning — from the Rushco store at 601 W. Jake Alexander Blvd.
Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins said the officer who responded to take the report saw a surveillance video in which it appeared Barber was the person who stole the wine.
Collins said Cook called on the SBI to investigate because Barber is a public official and his brother is a former law enforcement officer. Cook would only confirm that she did ask the SBI to investigate.
It’s not the first time Barber — who won re-election in November — has faced possible criminal charges.
Former District Attorney Bill Kenerly considered charges after Barber allegedly showed up drunk to his sixth-grade classroom at Southeast Middle School the morning of May 19, 2010.
Barber resigned from his teaching the Rowan-Salisbury School System the next day.
Barber told the Post at the time he left the school early that day and told administrators he was resigning “to pursue other opportunities.” He has since begun farming in western Rowan.
He subsequently admitted to battling with alcoholism, but has not publicly elaborated or changed his story about what happened that day at Southeast Middle.
Multiple sources told the Post, however, that Barber was removed from his classroom by Southeast Principal Skip Kraft because of suspicion that he was drunk. Students were preparing to take end-of-grade tests when the incident occurred.
Kenerly said in June that Barber “was escorted from the premises of Southeast Middle School and subsequently resigned” his teaching job. Kenerly said, however, that there were no criminal violations involving students and that Barber could not be “successfully prosecuted” for other crimes based on blood-alcohol test results obtained by the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
Barber pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in June 2008 after being found in February of that year passed out in his car near the corner of Sherrills Ford and Long Branch roads.