Politics & Government

Time in prison, and the other legal problems of Charlotte candidates

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Charlotte mayoral, council election coverage

Residents will vote for candidates for mayor, city council at-large and district races in the Sept. 10 primary.

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Some candidates have had run-ins with the law.

Others have had financial problems or disputes that led to legal judgments against them.

One went to prison.

The Observer checked criminal records for Charlotte’s city candidates as well as judgments and liens for those running for mayor and at-largeseats. Most of the candidates are running in the Sept. 10 primaries, for which early voting is underway.

Here are the findings:

Roderick Davis, D, mayor

Records show that Davis has been charged multiple times.

In 2005, he was found guilty of possessing stolen goods.

In 2012, he was charged with possessing drug paraphernalia and found guilty of marijuana possession.

“Isn’t marijuana legal now?” he asked the Observer. Told it isn’t, he said, “Well it should be.”

And in 2014, he was found guilty of passing on a worthless check.

Charlene Henderson, D, District 4.

Records show that in the early 1990s Henderson faced four cocaine-related charges and in 1992 was found guilty of selling cocaine.

She was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon in 1993.

“When you’re young and dumb you do things you’re not proud of,” said Henderson, now 51. “As I grew older I learned from my mistakes.”

Henderson said she’s turned her life around and now works with SAVE, a nonprofit that helps at-risk students.

“I can use my history to teach them,” she said.

LaWana Mayfield, D, at-large

As the Observer previously reported, Mayfield filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2004, two years after her house was foreclosed on.

She has said the trouble stemmed from an attempt to buy a house. Looking at two, she said she inadvertently signed papers for both. She has blamed the agent and bad advice.

Mayfield could not be reached.

Tigress McDaniel, D, mayor

As previously reported, McDaniel, then known as Tosha McDougal, served about 20 months in state prison after being convicted in 2006 in Cabarrus County on 2003 charges of obtaining property under false pretenses and identity theft. She has maintained her innocence and called the charges “trumped up.”

“. . . (M)y rights have been fully restored,” she says on her website. “I was wrongfully convicted. I appealed. I fought.”

McDaniel, who has run for office in Guilford County, was charged in 2010 with misdemeanor larceny, with simple assault in 2011 and with resisting an officer in 2014. Each charge was eventually dismissed, according to records.

McDaniel has filed more than 50 lawsuits in Mecklenburg, Guilford and other North Carolina counties, against public bodies, lawyers, landlords and others she has done business with. Court records show she has been the subject of a “gatekeeper order” — requiring court approval to file suits — in several counties.

McDaniel could not be reached.

Jorge Millares, D, at-large

The first-time candidate faces outstanding liens from the IRS and from the state of South Carolina.

Records show the IRS filed two liens against him. One in 2012 was for $23,831. The other for $16,973 came in 2014.

The state of South Carolina filed a lien for $4,659 in 2016 as well as liens for $5,476 and $7,611 in 2018.

“All tax debt owed to the state of South Carolina and the IRS are included in my installment agreements with them,” he told the Observer. “I am current and in good standing with both the IRS and the state of South Carolina.”

Millares said liens stem from hard times he experienced when living in South Carolina. He said he was about to go through a divorce and was the sole provider in the house. “So that put a strain on things,” he said. “I don’t believe in running away from your problems, I believe in accepting responsibility and that starts with me.”

Records also show a worthless check charge from 2004. He said that was incurred by a former family member.

In 2007, records show, he was charged with cannabis possession. He said it belonged to a passenger in a car he was driving.

James Mitchell, D, at-large

Mitchell, an at-large council member, still faces a $2,303 judgment from 2010. Interest has increased it to nearly $5,000.

Mitchell says the judgment, which has been previously reported by the Observer, is related to his 2010 divorce. Their home off Sunset Road was foreclosed on in 2011.

He says he’s continued to work with SunTrust Bank but it remains unresolved.

“We have not reached an agreement,” Mitchell said.

Lucille Puckett, D, mayor

The Observer has reported that Puckett was a Charlotte Housing Authority commissioner in 2011 when she was evicted from a public housing complex.

She has said she was evicted from Dillehay Courts after a lengthy fight that began when the Housing Authority said she violated rules by meeting with a man who’d been banned from CHA property. Puckett says she was trying to help a man who she felt was being wronged by authority rules.

Puckett could not be reached. However, she has said she believes she was wrongly evicted. She runs a non-profit whose clients include residents of public housing.

David Michael Rice, R, mayor

The Observer previously reported that he owed United Towing $2,800 after he parked his used Jeep Cherokee in the wrong place and they towed it away and stored it — a day after he bought it in 2015.

In 2013 Rice filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy and later had a string of eight liens against his Grier Heights property. He faced foreclosure in 2009. The Observer has previously reported those issues.

Rice could not be reached. But in the past, he acknowledged financial problems. “Just problems like anybody else would have,” he once said, adding, “It wouldn’t affect my ability to manage budgets.”

Chad Stachowicz, D, at-large

As previously reported, Stachowicz pleaded guilty on a DWI charge in 2008, when he was 23.

He has said he was young and “a different person,” and he has no excuse.

”I want people to understand it was a long time ago and I am very remorseful for it,” he said last year. “I deeply regret it.”

Braxton Winston, D, at-large

Records show Winston faced a $2,185 tax lien in California in 2011.

He said it stemmed from a dispute over California taxes after he moved to New Jersey for work in 2010. California wanted taxes on his salary for the entire year, he said, not just the time he worked in the state.

“My understanding was you paid taxes in the state where you earned it,” he said. “That’s not what California believed.”

In a separate case in 2011, a New York court issued a judgment for $1,715. He said that came after he broke a lease with a New York-based company for a New Jersey rental when he moved back to North Carolina.

“They wouldn’t work with me,” he said, “so the only thing I could do was just leave.”

Jim Morrill, who grew up near Chicago, covers state and local politics. He’s worked at the Observer since 1981 and taught courses on North Carolina politics at UNC Charlotte and Davidson College.