A Caldwell County man identified as a street gang member was sentenced to between 101 and 131 months in prison after he pleaded no contest to felony first-degree kidnapping and other felony offenses in Wilkes Superior Court on Sept. 25.
Joseph Anthony Bishop Jr., 21, of Hudson also pleaded no contest to assault inflicting serious bodily injury, common law robbery, larceny of a motor vehicle and being a habitual felon.
Judge R. Stuart Albright found Bishop guilty of the offenses and sentenced him. Albright gave Bishop credit for 332 days he spent in jail and ordered that he pay the fee for his court appointed attorney.
Bishop told authorities that he was a member of the Folk Nation Gangster Disciples gang after he was apprehended during a brief struggle with law enforcement officers in late-October in Fayette County, W.Va., according to a Fayette County Sheriff’s Department press release.
Bishop was arrested on a fugitive warrant from Wilkes County and was also charged in Fayette County with obstructing a police officer.
A Fayette County deputy was on patrol when he saw an unattended vehicle with a North Carolina license plate, checked the registration and learned that it was listed as stolen from Wilkes County on Oct. 15. Two Fayette deputies searched the area and then located and subdued the driver, identified as Bishop, where he was hiding in a house when he refused to surrender.
Det. Steve King of the Wilkes Sheriff’s Department said the vehicle recovered that day in West Virginia was a 2008 Toyota RAV4 belonging to Juan Garcia of Germantown Road in Moravian Falls.
King said he took out the fugitive warrant on Bishop after securing warrants charging him with kidnapping, assault inflicting serious injury, larceny of a motor vehicle and common law robbery in connection with an Oct. 15 incident in which Garcia was the victim. “I was made aware that he (Bishop) possibly was a member of a gang the night this happened,” he added.
The detective said Bishop was charged with binding Garcia with duct tape and then beating him at the victim’s home before stealing his vehicle.
King said Garcia, with his nose and other facial bones broken and bruises over much of his body, got free and called for help 30 to 40 minutes later. He was taken to Wilkes Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released.
King said Bishop was the son of Garcia’s girlfriend and that Garcia has nothing more serious than driving without a license on his record.
“There was an argument between them (Bishop and Garcia) the prior night at Garcia’s home because there were associates of Bishop there that Garcia didn’t want there,” he said. These associates aren’t believed to be from Wilkes, he said.
He said law enforcement officials in Caldwell identified Bishop as being involved with activities in that county that could be gang-related.
An N.C. Department of Correction (DOC) spokesman said that while Bishop was at Foothills Correctional Institution near Morganton in 2010, prison disciplinary action was taken against him after another inmate attacked a DOC official at the prison. The DOC official said Bishop was accused of ordering the inmate to attack the official.
A July 16, 2010, article in The News-Herald of Morganton quoted Det. David South of the Burke County Sheriff’s Department as calling Bishop a high-ranking Folk Nation gang member. The newspaper article said felony charges filed against Bishop while he was at Foothills involved an incident in which another inmate attacked a fellow inmate with a weapon made in prison.
Bishop was charged with escape in 2008 after he and another inmate jumped from an inmate transport van going from the Caldwell County Courthouse to jail as the van stopped at an intersection in Lenoir. Bishop, 18 at the time, and the other inmate were caught about seven hours later.
The N.C. Department of Correction listed his nickname as “Smooth.”