Special Reports

NC prison officer planned to behead 2 people. Then the FBI stepped in.

An officer at Tabor Correctional Institution planned to rob an armored car. The FBI foiled the 2014 plot.
An officer at Tabor Correctional Institution planned to rob an armored car. The FBI foiled the 2014 plot. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

He was a North Carolina prison officer with big dreams – until the FBI thwarted them.

David Lawrence Wallace Jr., an officer at Tabor Correctional Institution, was arrested in 2014 after the FBI received a tip that he planned to kill an armored car manager in Myrtle Beach as part of a plot to steal $30 million. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery – a federal felony.

The FBI’s investigation found that Wallace planned to kill the manager, his wife and anyone else in their home so that he could steal the alarm codes at the armored car building.

Wallace, 39, talked about beheading the victims to make it look like a terrorist act, said Jeffrey Long, a special agent with the FBI. Wallace also discussed using improvised explosive devices to distract investigators. He’d make them out of household chemicals, according to an affidavit.

Wallace said “his conscience doesn’t work like everyone else’s conscience,” the affidavit states.

For two months, federal officials watched Wallace, who was casing the armored car company, drawing getaway maps and looking for a third accomplice.

Long said Wallace told his accomplice-turned-FBI-informant that he was recruiting a fellow prison officer, though authorities were never able to confirm that.

“Correctional officers don’t make a ton of money,” Long said. “Our concern was he had access to other correctional officers who would have helped him if he needed a third guy.”

So federal authorities pounced. In November 2014, four FBI agents arrived at Tabor Correctional, a 1,700-person close custody prison on the South Carolina line, north of Myrtle Beach.

Wallace was called to the lobby where he was arrested.

Before Wallace was escorted away, prison officials made a request. They asked that he leave his Tabor Correctional equipment and uniform shirt at the prison, Long said.

“It was a courtesy to the prison,” he said, “so he wasn’t paraded to the federal courthouse … with a Tabor Correctional shirt on.”

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