60 veterans take advantage of special court program

By F.T. NORTON | Star-News | Published: November 18, 2017

WILMINGTON, N.C. (Tribune News Service) -- It's hard to believe with his sweet face and freckled ears that Henry is a scofflaw. But in October, as former Navy officer Bill Feldman was setting up a vendor booth at Riverfest, his 8-year-old PTSD service dog darted across Front Street to dine on a piece of discarded pizza.

Henry's odyssey ended with Feldman being cited for having an unleashed dog. It's was an irony not lost on him, Felman said, since he was at Riverfest to sell his Henry-inspired wristband that allows someone to walk their dog on a leash hands free.

On Friday, Feldman and Henry both appeared in New Hanover County District Court to take advantage of Operation Clean Slate, an event giving veterans an opportunity to resolve any outstanding non-violent cases in which warrants were issued.

"All he wanted was a pizza," Feldman said winking at the well-behaved Henry sitting at his feet.

The Wilmington transplant and his dog were among at least 60 military veterans who took advantage of a five-county initiative spearheaded by brothers Jon David, district attorney of Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen counties and Ben David, district attorney of New Hanover and Pender counties.

Like in Feldman's case, many of the citations were dismissed by Judge Robin Robinson or Judge Fred Gore -- currently enlisted in the N.C. National Guard as a Judge Advocate General.

"We are here to serve you today the way that you served us," Ben David announced to the veterans in the gallery.

That declaration was music to Leon Evans ears. The Navy veteran had picked up a three tickets driving for Uber in recent months and in October he'd missed court dates for two. Warrants were issued for his arrest, Evans admitted. He was nervous.

But in the end, the warrants were withdrawn and the citations were dismissed.

"There is no way that was supposed to happen like that because I'd gotten those three tickets in a pretty short period of time. (Cops) were telling me I was going to lose my license," Evans said afterward, giddy from his good fortune.

"I appreciate every bit of it."


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