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An employee of District Attorney David Learner has been asked to turn himself in on a felony larceny warrant from 1985, according to a press release from Learner.

Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid personally called and asked Bobby Lee Powell, 75, to turn himself in on the warrant in what Learner called a “clear political ploy,” according to the release. Learner is up for re-election this year and will face fellow Republican Scott Reilly in the May 8 primary election. Reid’s son, Jason Reid, is running to replace his dad as Catawba County sheriff. He will face Republican Don Brown in the Republican primary.

Powell has been employed by the DA’s office since Jan. 1, 2015, and works 15 hours per week, Learner’s release said. His job is to assist district attorney investigators in locating crime victims and witnesses, Learner’s release said.

According to The News & Observer’s database of state government employees’ salaries, Powell’s annual salary is $14,466. Powell has been suspended without pay until the matter is resolved, Learner’s release said.

Learner requested Wednesday that a DA’s office from another district handle the case to avoid possible conflict of interest. An assistant district attorney from Iredell and Alexander counties was approved, according to the release. 

“The warrant has been dormant for more than three decades, even though Mr. Powell has lived in Catawba and Burke counties all of his life and could be readily located,” Learner said in the release.

Learner said Powell has been an excellent employee for the state and that he questions Reid’s timing in serving the warrant.

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