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Informant Testifies Against N.C. Officer in Witness Tampering Case

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) - A police informant has testified that a Lumberton police officer told him to plant a computer disk in a house where the officer was trying to arrest a drug dealer.

Scott LaClaire testified Monday that Lt. Leon Oxendine told him to put the disk in the house Sept. 6, 2001.

The 51-year-old Oxendine, a 26-year veteran of the Lumberton Police Department, is on trial in U.S. District Court in Wilmington. He is charged with tampering with a witness; making false statements to the FBI; and five counts of making false declarations to a grand jury.

LaClaire, who spent two years in prison for possession of a firearm by a felon, said he learned that pending charges could send him back to prison. LaClaire went to the Lumberton police looking for a deal that might help him stay out of prison.

LaClaire testified that he told Oxendine that he could help him catch a drug dealer who allegedly sold drugs out of the house on Albion Street. A computer disk at the drug dealer's house, LaClaire said, contained an image of a $100 bill.

LaClaire testified that he lied about the disk being at the drug dealer's house. It actually was at his own house, where he retrieved the disk and brought it to Oxendine at the police station. Oxendine told him to go to the house on Albion Street and plant the disk, LaClaire said.

"It was his intention to arrest (the drug dealer) for the disk and get him on federal (counterfeiting) charges," LaClaire said.

Defense lawyer Woodberry Bowen said LaClaire had spent about 10 years in prison in his life for various offenses, lied to police and received deals from federal and state authorities to testify against Oxendine.

Jurors on Monday listened to taped conversations between LaClaire and former Lumberton police officer James Jordan, one of the officers who searched the house.

Jordan resigned from the department in April 2003. He was charged with giving state and federal agents fictitious information and in January pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor resisting a public officer charge.

On the tapes, Jordan told LaClaire to plant drugs on another drug dealer.

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