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February 3, 2014

Charge dismissed against Lake Norman charter boat operator

Case would be difficult to win at trial, district attorney’s office concludes

A charge against a Cornelius man that he operated a Lake Norman charter boat without a permit has been dismissed in Iredell County Superior Court.

Cliff Champion was scheduled to appear in court on Monday, but the Lake Norman Marine Commission agreed to drop the charge after consulting with the Iredell County district attorney’s office, executive director Ron Shoultz said.

Shoultz has said the commission received numerous complaints about Champion taking parties out on the N 2 Deep charter boat.

The commission never had proof until it obtained a copy of a contract Champion signed with a woman who wanted to host a wedding reception on the boat, Shoultz said. The commission also obtained a copy of the $500 check that Champion took as payment, Shoultz said.

The woman canceled the charter after learning Champion didn’t have a permit to operate the boat.

The district attorney’s office concluded it was likely to lose the case at trial because the charter in question never happened, Shoultz said.

The case was the first time the commission had brought a charge against a charter boat operator under its charter boat ordinance. Champion’s boat was repossessed recently by a Cornelius doctor who’d loaned Champion about $275,000 to buy the boat but hadn’t been repaid, court records show.

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