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Heroin dealer pleads guilty, sentenced up to 15 years

James Daron Moore, 31, of Bridgeton, pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial on Tuesday and was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. (Photo: District Attorney Scott Thomas)

A Carteret County heroin dealer pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial on Tuesday and was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

James Daron Moore, 31, of Bridgeton, originally entered a not guilty plea and a jury was selected on Monday, April 9. The trial began shortly after, starting with the State presenting evidence against Moore.

"When the court took its lunch breach at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the State was still presenting evidence, and Moore told his attorney that he wanted to change his plea to guilty," officials said in a press release.

Evidence showed that Moore sold heroin to an undercover informant working with the Carteret County Sheriff's Office on February 7 and February 9 of 2017. Both transactions took place in a Newport shopping center parking lot and Moore received $1,000 for the heroin each time.

On February 20, 2017, Moore sold approximately 7 grams of heroin, which is considered to be a trafficking weight, to the same informant. The informant paid Moore $1,600 in that exchange with funds taken from the Sheriff's Office Drug Fund.

Moore was arrested shortly after the last transaction, following a "brief chase," officials said. Law enforcement officials were able to recover the $1,600 and another small amount of heroin from his groin area.

Moore pleaded guilty to two counts of trafficking in heroin. He was sentenced to 140 to 186 months in prison, which equates to approximately 11 to 15 years. He was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

"As long as heroin dealers continue to operate in our communities, we will continue to investigate them, prosecute them, and send them to prison. North Carolina sentencing laws enable us to seek long prison sentences in trafficking cases, and that is just what we do," District Attorney Scott Thomas said. "We appreciate the good work of the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office and all of our law enforcement partners in establishing strong cases for prosecution.”

Resident Superior Court Judge John Nobles presided over this trial, and the cases were prosecuted in court by Assistant District Attorneys David Spence and Ashley Eatmon. District Attorney Scott Thomas and Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck are members of the North Carolina Law Enforcement Opioid Task Force, a statewide group includes representatives from more than 30 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and organizations, working to protect communities and enable law enforcement officers to effectively combat the heroin and opioid epidemic.

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