Surf City councilman reaches plea deal in election violation case

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Jeremy Shugarts (Photo: WWAY)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Surf City Councilmen Jeremy Shugarts appeared in court on Friday for review of potential violations regarding residency requirements.

The court dismissed six felonies and Shugarts plead guilty to a Class 2 misdemeanor with no probation.

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Shugarts was indicted on August 28, 2019 for election violation charges.

Shugarts’ attorney released the following statement:

“There is a dangerous trend of the criminal process being used for political campaign purposes. These tactics undermine the public’s faith in our electoral process and undoubtedly discourage well-qualified candidates from running.

Mr. Shugarts signed a form that, unbeknownst to him, listed his old address. Even the investigators admit that Mr. Shugarts gained nothing and had nothing to gain from this error, and that he corrected the oversight immediately when it was brought to his attention. Years later, he was charged—and with six felonies. Whether anyone who was not a candidate challenging an entrenched politician would have been charged, I will leave that to you to decide.

Ultimately, however, the law rightly requires people to read their election forms carefully, and even the unknowing signing of a form with incorrect information is a low-level misdemeanor. Mr. Shugarts acknowledges that he was moving too fast and didn’t read the form, and that the form was inaccurate. Mr Shugarts has accepted responsibility for this unintentional oversight, by pleading to this Class 2 misdemeanor, and was ordered to show proof of completion of 16 hours of community service, which he completed prior to court today. He also volunteered to pay a $1000 fine to ensure that the taxpayers do not have to cover the cost of this investigation. The felonies were dismissed.

Councilman Shugarts has been a force of important change on the city council, and he looks forward to continuing to push for transparency and other significant positive change that improves the quality of life for the people of Surf City.”