Trafficking charge droppedPublished 8:06pm Monday, August 12, 2013
A charge of heroin trafficking was dropped by the state after the suspected substance tested negative for heroin at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s lab.
In Beaufort County Superior Court on Monday, Bruce Wiggins, 51, of Deerfield Mobile Home Park in Washington, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession with intent to sell heroin, maintaining a dwelling to facilitate drug activity and habitual felon, all stemming from a series of controlled buys captured on video and audio by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit in March of 2012. A subsequent search of Wiggins’ home after his arrest turned up heroin packaging material, digital scales and a glass jar with 18 ounces of what was thought to be heroin at the time, according to Assistant District Attorney Matthew Rice.
“Originally, he was charged with a trafficking amount of heroin,” said his defense attorney Norma Laughton. “But it turned out that the substance was not heroin at all.”
Rice pointed out that the substance bought from Wiggins during three sales observed by narcotics officers did test positive for heroin at the state lab.
When asked if he had anything to say to the court before sentencing, Wiggins only response was to thank Laughton for believing in him and for her hard work and dedication to his case.
“She put up with my tirades and my rantings,” Wiggins joked. “She was excellent to me.”
Wiggins has a long criminal history that started in New York with grand larceny charges, but, according to his statement to the judge, has now ended in Beaufort County.
“I’m done,” Wiggins told Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons Jr., referring to his previous criminal activities.
Wiggins’ attitude and stated intentions to start down a better path, along with Laughton’s praise of her client, led Sermons to hand down the lightest sentence allowed by the state’s structured sentencing: a minimum of 30 months and a maximum of 48 months in prison, with time already served credited against the sentence.
Wiggins, unable to make bond for the trafficking charge, has spent 16 1/2 months in jail — first in the Beaufort County Detention Center, then in the various facilities that have taken in Beaufort County’s inmates since the jail was ordered evacuated in June.