DA finds insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice by former mayor

In a letter dated April 8 to N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Moore County District Attorney Michael Hardin said he found insufficient evidence to support obstruction of justice or intimidation of a state’s witness by former Robbins Mayor Lonnie English.

The SBI started an investigation on English late last year on allegations of obstruction of justice.

“The SBI was requested to conduct an obstruction of justice investigation in November of 2020, involving Lonnie English,” said the public information director of the SBI to Sandhills Sentinel in a February email. “Once the SBI investigation is completed, the case file will be submitted to the DA for review.  The DA will determine what, if any, charges, etc.”

English resigned from his position in February without giving a reason after the board of commissioners met without him in a closed meeting regarding the conduct of a town official.

Former District Attorney Maureen Krueger requested Hardin to review the investigation that was submitted by the SBI.

English’s son, Jessie English, was taken into custody on October 27, 2020 after he was allegedly found in possession of stolen goods that belonged to Quality Salvage Industries (QSI), said Hardin. On October 29, 2020, English asked the town clerk to type a letter to the Moore County manager with a list of businesses that had issues on fire, environmental, safety/health for children and people in general.

This letter requested support to inspect these businesses and take appropriate action. QSI, which is owned by Armond Corporation, was one of the four businesses on this list. At first glance, it did appear that this could be retaliatory in nature, said Hardin.

However, English provided information that he was asked by the Fire Marshal in a meeting in early October to add QSI to the list of businesses to be inspected. English researched these addresses as early as October 15, 2020, and this was corroborated by text messages to an intern working in his office.

Likewise, the county manager, the fire marshal, and the chief of Robbin’s fire department corroborated these events. The fire marshal admitted he asked this business to be added to the list on October 1, 2020. It is clear this decision was ultimately made by the fire marshal and not English, said Hardin. This decision clearly predated the custody of English’s son regarding the theft from QSI by nearly a month. 

English served the people of Robbins as the mayor for 10 years.

File photo of former Robbins Mayor Lonnie English during a budget planning meeting in March 2019.

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