Four men have been charged with committing armed robberies at homes in Wilkes and two other area counties after displaying bogus search warrants, falsely portraying themselves as law enforcement officers and binding many of their victims with zip ties... Collins was state director of the Wilkes County Home Builders Association in 2009, president of the association in 2010 and is currently a regional vice president of the N.C. Homebuilders Association. He was identified as owner of CNC Construction Co., which was dissolved by the N.C. Secretary of States office in 2004.
Four men have been charged with committing armed robberies at homes in Wilkes and two other area counties after displaying bogus search warrants, falsely portraying themselves as law enforcement officers and binding many of their victims with zip ties.
Charged are Chad Norman Collins, 39, of 301 East Main Street, Wilkesboro; Robert Lee Robbie Miller Jr., 33, of Champion Mount Pleasant Road in the Champion community; James Ray Hugus, 57, of Raleigh; and Larry Thomas Greer, 35, of Big Peak Road in the Ashe County portion of Laurel Springs.
Authorities said the four men wore law enforcement-type clothing, carried handguns and in some instances wore bulletproof vests. The cases occurred between early 2010 and early 2011.
Investigators said Collins claimed to have taken basic law enforcement training before coming to Wilkes from Raleigh. He was selling real estate in Wilkes as long ago as 2006.
As a principal in North Raleigh Land Development Inc., Collins bought acreage off Old N.C. 16 North in Wilbar and developed it into the Jade Mountain subdivision.
Wilkes Register of Deeds records show a mortgage lender foreclosed on part of Jade Mountain in 2010 and N.C. Secretary of State records show North Raleigh Land Development was formed in 2004 and dissolved in 2009.
Collins was state director of the Wilkes County Home Builders Association in 2009, president of the association in 2010 and is currently a regional vice president of the N.C. Homebuilders Association. He was identified as owner of CNC Construction Co., which was dissolved by the N.C. Secretary of States office in 2004.
According to a probable cause affidavit written by Det. J.S. King of the Wilkes Sheriffs Department in an application for a search warrant early this month, investigators were told that Arvil Clark of Laurel Bloomery, Tenn., shot Collins on the night of March 14, 2010, when Collins went to Clarks home dressed like a law enforcement officer.
The search warrant was obtained to look for evidence pertaining to the investigation in a storage building off Suncrest Orchard Road, North Wilkesboro, which Collins rents.
The affidavit said records of Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem indicated Collins was treated for a gunshot wound to the left side of his neck and a chin laceration on March 15, 2010. It also said investigators were told Clark recognized Collins as one of two men who came to his home about 11:30 p.m. March 7, 2010, with a search warrant and claiming to be police.
Investigators were told the two men had long sleeve shirts with POLICE written on the sleeves, badges and guns that they pointed at Clark and his wife, Margaret Clark before binding them with zip ties. The two men stole guns and medication.
On the night of Feb. 22, 2011, the Clarks were both wounded when several shots were fired into their home. They were treated at Johnson City Medical Center.
As a result of an investigation by the Johnson, Ashe and Wilkes county sheriffs departments, Greer was arrested on April 20, 2011, and charged with aggravated burglary, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts each of aggravated kidnapping and criminal impersonation of an officer and theft of over $1,000 in the Clark case. He was also charged with possession of schedule VI and schedule II drugs.
Greer, identified as a Christmas tree farm laborer, is in the Ashe County Jail with no bond awaiting extradition to Johnson County, Tenn.
Miller was arrested on April 20, 2011, on a charge of possession of stolen property filed by the Wilkes Sheriffs Department. Miller, in the Wilkes jail with a $100,000 bond, and Collins had first appearances in Wilkes District Court this week on the latest charges.
Information gained while investigating the incidents at the Clark home in Tennessee led to Collins, Miller, Greer and Hugus being charged in incidents in Wilkes and Ashe counties, said Ashe Sheriff James Williams.
Det. Sgt. Rob Powers of the Ashe Sheriffs Department said four incidents occurred in the Creston community of northwestern Ashe, including two in October 2010, one in late February 2011 and one in early March 2011.
Powers said the suspects left the second home they visited in October without taking anything when they realized the intended victim, a woman, was dialing 911. He said the woman dialed 911 because she knew about a neighbor, Nellie Brown of Shelton Hollow Road, being robbed by men impersonating law enforcement officials. Guns and a locked box were stolen from Brown.
Powers said charges were also filed in connection with a breaking and entering and larceny at an equipment storage building in the Ashe portion of Laurel Springs.
Collins, Miller, Hugus and Greer are charged with second-degree burglary, impersonating an officer, second-degree kidnapping and larceny of a firearm in connecting with a Feb. 17, 2010, incident at the Ellen and Jones McAuthor Trivette home on Champion Road in Champion.
A .16-gauge shotgun, gun safe, three rifles, electronics, $1,300 in cash and silver bars worth $200,000 were stolen from the Trivette home. Investigators said the suspects told the Trivettes they needed to take photos of items in a safe due to a tax discrepancy. The two men had ball caps and jackets with CIA written on them.
All four men are also charged with armed robbery, impersonating an officer, first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping and larceny of a firearm in connection with an incident at the Jason Aldean Carter home on Bethel Road, near Jonesville and the Yadkin County line on July 16, 2010.
Theyre charged with stealing two handguns, five rifles, three shotguns, two digital cameras, four cell phones, a two-way radio, $700 in ammunition and $1,300 in cash from the Carter home.
Carter said one of the men wore a black vest with a DEA badge, indicating he was with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The other three men wore full-face masks, pointed black semi-automatic weapons at Carter and appeared to be wearing black bulletproof vests.
Investigators said that in all of the cases, the suspects were already acquainted with the victims in one way or another.
Collins is in the Wilkes County Jail with a $1 million secured bond. He has a $3 million secured bond in Ashe County.
Miller, identified as a truck driver, is in the Wilkes jail with a $100,000 secured bond. Hugus, a cabinet builder, is in the Ashe County Jail with a $37,500 secured bond.
According to Kings affidavit, stolen property, zip ties, law enforcement identification, fake search warrants, other law enforcement paraphernalia and other evidence were found at Collins residence and business on Main Street, Wilkesboro, during a search on April 28, 2011.
Collins was arrested on April 28 on Ashe warrants.
King said the investigation is continuing with assistance from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.