MOREHEAD CITY — A city real estate developer and former car dealer with ties to a sitting county commissioner and a candidate for commissioner was recently arrested in Florida as a fugitive from justice from Carteret County involving thousands of dollars of worthless checks.
Justin Worth Narron, 29, with multiple addresses on file, has an April 23 court date in Beaufort for two felony worthless check charges, according to N.C. Justice System records.
Sheriff Asa Buck stated in a Friday email the amounts total $50,000 and there’s an “ongoing investigation.” Meanwhile, other sources close to the case say a number of prominent county residents have lost tens or hundreds of thousands more in real estate deals with Mr. Narron.
Sheriff Buck declined to give any further information, citing concerns that Mr. Narron is a “flight risk.”
“As this is an ongoing investigation, that is all we are releasing at this time,” he stated.
A source said Saturday that law enforcement has reason to believe Mr. Narron could attempt to flee to Costa Rica.
Commissioner Pat Joyce of Beaufort said Friday the two felony counts here are for checks written to him for repayment of a personal loan of “more than $2,000.” He was contacted after a source pointed to a link between Mr. Narron and Mr. Joyce, county commissioner candidate Larry Land of Morehead City and possibly other county businessmen.
Mr. Joyce said he thought the arrest in Florida was unrelated to the worthless checks Mr. Narron had allegedly written him and instead connected to a civil matter.
Mr. Joyce said Mr. Narron was no longer in jail, saying he was released Thursday. But because the sheriff wouldn’t discuss the case or release any records, it’s unknown whether Mr. Narron was held in Beaufort at any time, whether he’s out on bond and if so, for how much.
The court system is closed for the Easter holidays, so only basic arrest information is online.
A search shows an arrest report from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, where Mr. Narron was arrested March 30 in Wesley Chapel, Fla., near Tampa Bay, as a fugitive from justice from Carteret County. That sheriff department’s website also lists a charge of obtaining property by false pretense and refers to another unspecified charge that was “entered in error.”
It is a misdemeanor in North Carolina to write a check with insufficient funds, on a nonexistent or closed bank account. Class I felony charges are issued when the amount of a worthless check is more than $2,000, according to North Carolina statutes.
The bad check charges are related to checks Mr. Narron wrote to Mr. Joyce for repayment of a personal loan, Mr. Joyce said.
Mr. Joyce said he had extended the short-term, interest-free loan to Mr. Narron to cover expenses related to Mr. Narron’s recently closed used auto sales business, Big Rock Auto Exchange on Highway 70 west.
“He and I are not business partners,” said Mr. Joyce. “I wrote him a check as a friend and he was supposed to pay me back in two weeks. He did and the check bounced. Then he brought another check to pay for the first check and it bounced. But it wasn’t a business deal, it was just a friend helping out a friend.”
A search of state corporate records through the N.C. Secretary of State’s office shows Mr. Narron as a business partner in a limited-liability company or LLC with Mr. Joyce and Mr. Land, a candidate for county commissioner in District 3 in the Republican Party primary on May 8.
When asked about the documents on file with the state, Mr. Joyce said he didn’t recall any such business agreement and that no business had ever been transacted.
The real estate investment firm, PJL of Carteret, LLC, was formed in August 2010, but its annual financial report to the Secretary of State’s Office is past due, according to state records.
The delinquency makes the company out of compliance with the state’s limited liability company act and a notice of grounds for administrative dissolution was sent Mr. Land Dec. 9, 2011.
The company address is listed as 700 Land Point Road, Morehead City, which is Mr. Land’s home address in the Haystacks area.
Mr. Land said Saturday the company was formed solely to purchase a piece of real estate, but the deal fell through. He said the business had nothing to do with Mr. Narron’s alleged offense or the money owed Mr. Joyce.
“That corporation had nothing to do with anything. We needed an LLC on a land deal and we had to move real fast. But before we got the thing set up, we had to back out of the deal,” Mr. Land said.
Mr. Land also said he and a number of others in the community had also lost large sums of money in dealings with Mr. Narron.
“I hate that he got some (money) from me but I’m certainly in good company.” Mr. Land said.
Along with Mr. Land’s address, the state’s record for PJL of Carteret, LLC, also includes a 310 Core Sound Loop Road, Atlantic Beach, address for Mr. Joyce and a 205 Bogue Drive, Morehead City, address for Mr. Narron, which is in Brandywine Bay.
However, the Core Sound Loop Road is in Atlantic, in the Down East area, which is county commissioner District 6. Mr. Joyce is listed on the Carteret County government’s website as living at 715 Comet Drive, which is north of Beaufort and in District 5, which Mr. Joyce was elected to represent.
The Florida arrest report lists Mr. Narron’s home address as 3318 Evening Breeze Loop, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Mr. Narron is also listed with various other business entities registered with the state, including Narron Real Estate Holdings Inc. and the Narron Group LLC, both real estate holding companies; and Narron Business Park Owners’ Association Inc., a nonprofit subdivision administration entity.
Narron Business Park is a cul-de-sac subdivision off Arthur Farm Road near the county business park. Mr. Narron tried unsuccessfully in 2008 to have the site rezoned to allow residential development.
He is also listed as agent with a company called Ballou Enterprises that owns land near Newport marked in 2009 for a planned residential development. The 44-acre parcel was the site of a bloody Civil War battle and Mr. Narron’s plans drew attention during town meetings in 2009 when area residents called for preservation of the site known as Newport Barracks.
The site and the battle that took place there are the subject of a nearby historical marker and a state Civil War Trails marker.
Mr. Narron, in an effort to address historical concerns and gain town approval for the proposed project, which remains undeveloped, agreed at the time to set aside about an acre at the site for a memorial monument and park.