Criminal Justice

Judge Can’t Figure Out Why Lawyers Thought DWI Scheme Was a Good Idea

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Two North Carolina lawyers are headed to prison after pleading guilty in a scheme to get drunken driving cases dismissed.

The judge overseeing the case said he was baffled by the lawyers’ conduct, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“I cannot understand why anyone thought this was a good idea,” said Superior Court Judge Henry Hight. “Detection was almost certain given the records and the number of people involved. I don’t get it.”

Lawyer Chad Lee will spend at least 3½ years in prison, and his buddy, Lee Hatch, will go to prison for at least three years, the story says. Still facing charges is Cindy Jaeger, a former prosecutor for Johnston County accused of agreeing to dismiss dozens of DWI cases for the lawyers.

Two other lawyers who were accused of lesser roles in the scheme were sentenced to probation and banned from handling criminal cases, the News & Observer reports.

The newspaper says Chad and Lee barely looked at each other as they pleaded guilty.

“The scam, ill-conceived and short-lived, earned them little and cost them almost everything,” the story says. “The scheme, explained in even the simplest terms, makes little sense. No one got rich. No one got a promotion or even congratulations. Some of the clients didn’t even know they were granted a favor.”

Related coverage: “N.C. Lawyer Suspected in DWI Case Scheme Is Missing” “5 Lawyers & Former Court Clerk Defending N.C. Ticket-Tampering Case” “5 Lawyers & Clerk Accused of Tampering With DWI Tix”

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