Criminal Justice

N.C. Lawyer Suspected in DWI Case Scheme Is Missing

  • Print.

A North Carolina criminal defense lawyer charged in a suspected scheme to dismiss drunken driving cases is missing.

Lawyer Chad Lee of Smithfield has been gone for nearly a month, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. He was charged in May along with three other defense lawyers, a former prosecutor and a former deputy clerk in Johnston County, N.C.

The group is accused of using forms with the former prosecutor’s signature to dismiss dozens of drunken-driving cases.

“Lee’s disappearance jolted a courthouse where he had been a constant” since his graduation from Campbell Law School, the story says. He started out prosecuting traffic cases and financial fraud, and within a few years became a criminal defense lawyer.

Within six years, Lee’s practice rivaled that of other long-time Smithfield lawyers, the story says. After he was charged with obstruction of justice, lawyers at the courthouse seemed to avoid Lee, according to Barbara Johnson, an administrative assistant to Johnston County’s superior court judge.

“He was embarrassed,” Johnson told the news & Observer. “You could see it in his eyes.”

“Everyone’s fearing the worst,” Johnson said. “I do hope we’re wrong. I hope he’s just skipped out for a while to get himself together.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.