Wednesday, July 24, 2024

UPDATED: Commissioner Berger moved to Central Prison in Raleigh

New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger is escorted into a courtroom for a hearing on alleged probation violations. Photo by Jonathan Spiers.
New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger is escorted into a courtroom for a hearing on alleged probation violations. Photo by Jonathan Spiers.

New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger–who has been in custody in since being arrested in Avery County in June–has been transferred to Central Prison.

Berger was moved from the New Hanover County jail to Raleigh’s Central Prison, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman J.J. Brewer said Berger was transferred to Central Prison on Sunday because of behavioral issues, though he wouldn’t say if there was a specific incident that prompted the move.

A hearing scheduled last week on probation violations charged against Berger was delayed to Sept. 9 by consent of all parties involved, according to District Attorney Ben David. David recently said that the reasons for the hearing delay would be shared at that hearing—a continuance of a previous hearing held in July.

At that hearing, District Judge Robin Robinson granted David’s request for a second opinion of a mental health evaluation that found Berger incapable of proceeding with the hearing. Robinson ordered a second assessment from a state doctor, and for Berger to proceed with treatment recommended in the evaluation, which was performed by a physician through the public defender’s office.

The contents of that evaluation remain sealed by the court.

Previous story: Berger to appear in court on probation violation charges

Berger was arrested in Avery County in June on probation violations stemming from a plea deal in February that suspended a previous charge of driving while impaired.

That deal required a year’s worth of supervised probation that David has said Berger violated multiple times since his guilty plea in February. Among the alleged violations is possession of firearms, which were found within reach of Berger when he was arrested in Avery County following a shots-fired complaint.

In addition to the 120-day suspended sentence, Berger faces an additional 45 days on a drug possession charge if found guilty of violating the terms of his probation. An additional charge of driving while license revoked is pending in Johnston County, and David has said potentially more charges could come from Avery County, where Berger was found with a marijuana pipe in addition to the weapons, which included a crossbow and multiple rifles.

Related story: Commisisoner Berger in custody in Avery County

Berger was arrested at a home owned by Wilmington businessman and political hopeful Justin LaNasa, whom David identified as the apparent owner of the weapons found in Berger’s possession. First responders have said the weapons were secured in a case in the home but Berger gained access to them without LaNasa’s permission.

The charges are the latest in a string of legal troubles that has followed Berger since his election four years ago. His term on the board of New Hanover County commissioners expires this December.

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