WEB: Barrett Trial Under Way
The criminal case against Taylortown councilman and former mayor Ulysses S. Barrett Jr. was to begin this morning in Moore County District Court.
The trial was scheduled to begin Wednesday. It was delayed because another matter took longer than expected.
One charge against Barrett has been dropped. Barrett was originally charged with three misdemeanors. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) agents arrested Barrett and charged him with acting as a town manager while holding the position of mayor, benefiting from a public contract while being a public officer and violating a fraud statute.
The state has since dropped the town manager charge. The statute barring an official from holding both mayor and town manager positions applies only to towns with a manager/council form of government. Taylor-town operates with a town council that elects one member to serve as mayor. This is done at the pleasure of the council and may be changed at any time.
After Barrett won re-election in November, the council chose Jesse F. Fuller Sr., as mayor.
The two remaining charges against Barrett, both misdemeanors, have to do with benefiting from a contract while holding public office and a fraud charge arising from his allegedly using service of a town worker to help with work Barrett was doing under contract.
If convicted on the fraud charge, Barrett could no longer serve on the council. He would lose the right to hold office and have to leave the board.
Barrett's trial will take at least a day, attorneys say.
A special judge, L.T. Hammond, was to be in Moore County today to try so-called "conflict cases" -- cases where a witness or victim is a family member of somebody connected with law enforcement or the court system. Barrett's case was added to his calendar.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Conely met with Barrett's attorney, Bruce Cunningham, last summer and agreed to continue the case. Other delays were made necessary by Cunningham's duties as a state-appointed defender in a long capital murder case last fall.
Barrett has always contended his actions were legal, saying state law allows small towns to hire board members as long as they don't overcharge. He said that what he charged the town was cheaper than Taylortown would have had to pay somebody else.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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