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McDowell grand jury indicts home builders. Court documents allege scheme took in millions.
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McDowell grand jury indicts home builders. Court documents allege scheme took in millions.

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A grand jury has indicted two Marion residents on multiple charges of embezzlement totaling millions of dollars and involving multiple victims across several WNC counties, according to court documents.

The role of the grand jury is to determine whether probable cause exists for the charge.

During the October 2021 session, Del Jon Bristol Jr., 53, of Pepperwood Drive, Marion, was indicted on 11 counts each of embezzlement greater than $100,000, conversion and obtaining property by false pretenses and one count of embezzlement under $100,000.

His wife, Serena Stamm Bristol, 46, of Pepperwood Drive, Marion, was indicted on 13 counts each of embezzlement over $100,000 and conversion. Conversion means they were “entrusted with any property as bailee, lessee, tenant or lodger, or with any power of attorney for the sale or transfer thereof, who fraudulently converts the same, or the proceeds thereof, to his own use, or secretes it with a fraudulent intent to convert it to his own use, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

As reported by the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office in January 2019, Del and Serena Bristol were charged by Det. Van Williams of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office with one count of embezzlement and five counts of exploiting the elderly and were taken into custody under $700,000 bonds. The couple owns World Outdoor Log Homes, which they operated out of their residence on Pepperwood Drive, according to reports.

During the investigation in 2019, reports poured in from people in McDowell, Rutherford, Buncombe, Polk, Madison and Henderson counties who had contracted with the Bristols to build their homes. The couple took hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time from most of the victims -- either from them personally or from their construction loans – for down payments, purchasing of materials and paying subcontractors, but the money was not used for that and is still unaccounted for, according to deputies. As of 2019, there were at least 20 victims across the six counties who were scammed for well over $2 million, according to investigators.

During the initial investigation, the Bristols abruptly left town and were tracked the two to a condominium on Lake Norman on Jan. 10, 2021 and apprehended there. Both suspects are currently booked in the McDowell County Jail awaiting trial.

The following true bill of indictments were handed down by a grand jury in October:

● Curtis Jerome Avery, 40, of Reds Hill Drive, Marion, one count each of habitual felon and possession of a communication device by inmate.

● Gary Nicholas Bailey, 45, of Black Gum Drive, Old Fort, one count each of trafficking methamphetamine and trafficking cocaine.

● Jessica Gayle Boone, 38, of Charlie Mack Drive, Burnsville, one count each of possession of methamphetamine, possession of fentanyl, possession with intent to sell and deliver fentanyl, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and habitual felon.

● Stephanie Nicole Buckner, 32, of Wheeler Drive, Nebo, one count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

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● Arlie Kevin Davis, 49, of Hidden Cove Drive, Marion, one count of possession of methamphetamine.

● James Edwards, 50, of Muddy Creek Road, Nebo, one count each of possession of methamphetamine, carrying a concealed gun and possession of drug paraphernalia.

● Conner Elizabeth Hamby, 25, of Lenoir, one count each of possession of marijuana up to a half ounce, simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

● Tevin Wayne Lanning, 29, of Davis Park Lane, Marion, one count each of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods, resisting public officer, possession of heroin and two counts of possession of methamphetamine.

● Kayla Leann Hegler, 30, of Cherokee Way, Marion, one count each of fictitious tag, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of methamphetamine and driving while license revoked.

● Cody Lee McKinney, 27, of Harmony Grove Road, Nebo, one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia, simple possession of a schedule III controlled substance, reckless driving to endanger, resisting public officer, flee or elude arrest with motor vehicle and habitual felon.

● David Eugene McKinney, 53, of Wall Poole Road, Marion, one count each of resisting public officer, possession of methamphetamine and assault on a government official.

● William “Billy” Ray Riddle, 57, of California Avenue, Marion, two counts each of possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

● Derek James Suddreth, 21, of Red Oak Drive, Nebo, one count felony possession of marijuana.

● Randy Tate, 57, of Charlotte, one count each of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering and habitual felon.

● Talina “Suzzann or Susan” Taylor, 36, of Ellenboron, one count each of possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, possession of marijuana up to a half ounce, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance and two counts of trafficking methamphetamine.

● Roy Eugene Watts, 55, of Catawba Way, Marion, one count each of possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

● Phillip Jamie Ward, 49, of Mount Pleasant Church Road, Marion, one count each of simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, resisting public officer, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana up to a half-ounce, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

● Ronnie James Williams, 49, of Lindsey Lane, Nebo, one count of habitual felon.

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