Kinston man sentenced to nine years in prison for robbery, firearm offenses

(Photo: Franklin County Sheriff's Office)

KINSTON, Lenoir County - A Kinston man was sentenced to nine years in prison yesterday for robbery and firearm offenses.

James Earl Sutton, 55, of Kinston was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Sutton was named in an Indictment filed on February 28, along with two other individuals, alleging conspiracy to commit robbery and subsequent counts. He pled guilty to two counts in the Indictment, Hobbs Act robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Officials said the investigation began in August 2015 after a robbery at the U.S. Cellular Store in Beulaville. Robberies also occurred in Kinston, Pink Hill, Faison, Kenansville and Snow Hill.

Sutton was identified by law enforcement and co-defendants and associates Keenan Drake, Charles Nobles and Kindra Arnold, as suspects in the robberies.

This case was part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, which encourages federal, state and local agencies to unify against gun crime by targeting repeat offenders, officials said.

Multiple agencies took part in this case, including the Duplin County Sheriff's Office, the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office, the Kinston Police Department, the New Bern Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), among others.