Former store manager gets prison

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — A former Dollar General store manager charged with embezzling from the store and setting a bank’s drop box on fire to cover it up has been convicted of drug trafficking.
Jeffry Allen Thomas, 42, of 1115 Heatherdale Road, was sentenced to between 70 and 84 months in the N.C. Department of Correction for drug charges that occurred shortly after his arrest for arson.
A jury convicted Thomas last week in Rowan County Superior Court on two counts felony trafficking in opium/heroin and misdemeanor possession of hydrocodone.
On Aug. 4, 2010 the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office set up an undercover operation where Thomas bought pills in the parking lot of Food Lion in China Grove.
Thomas was stopped in his vehicle while attempting to exit the parking lot where the transaction took place, authorities said.
Officers executed a search warrant on Thomas’ vehicle and located the narcotics hidden inside the lining of the driver’s seat of the vehicle.
Investigators found 14 hydrocodone pills hidden under the driver’s seat of his car and valium pills in his wallet, according to statements at the time of the incident.
In addition to the prison time, Thomas was ordered to pay $51,664.50 in court costs and fines and $3,337.50 in court appointed attorney fees. He must also complete work release.
A charge of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance was dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office, court records said.
Also in August 2010, authorities said Thomas stole money from the Dollar General Store he managed on South Enochville Avenue to buy drugs.
Investigators said Thomas left the store on July 3 with the nightly bank deposit, which was always taken to a CommunityOne Bank branch next door.
Early on July 6, firefighters responded to a blaze that damaged the small bank branch. Authorities accused Thomas of setting the fire at the night deposit box to hide his crime.
The fire caused extensive damage to the bank, but the deposit safe’s contents remained intact, investigators said at the time of the incident.
Investigators determined the Dollar General deposit was missing.
The bank’s security system was damaged by fire and water, but crime scene investigators recovered and repaired the video.
Authorities were also able to repair damaged surveillance video from the bank.
The case involving arson is still pending.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.