WENTWORTH — The criminal case against prominent Eden businessman Mickey Snow will no longer be handled by the Rockingham County District Attorney’s office, prosecutor Charlene Coggins-Franks said during court proceedings Friday morning.
The case is expected to be handled by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.
A formal request will be submitted next week by Jason Ramey, Rockingham's interim district attorney.
The case joins more than a dozen the group has agreed to review from Rockingham that had been handled by former District Attorney Craig Blitzer, who resigned last year amid a state investigation of his office into misuse of funds.
The conference, based in Raleigh, was established in 1983 to provide support to the 44 elected district attorneys across the state.
The decision to have the group take over the Snow case was made public during a bond reduction motion Friday that was heard in Rockingham County Superior Court by Judge Nathaniel Poovey, who is specially assigned to the case.
Coggins-Franks said at the hearing that it would be a conflict of interest for the local prosecutor’s office to handle the case.
Ramey, who recently took over as interim district attorney from Tom Keith, contacted SBI officials in 2015 about the potential misuse of state funds, which helped launch the investigation into Blitzer and Wallace Bradsher, the former Person/Caswell district attorney.
Two of Snow’s defense attorneys, Winston-Salem based Michael Grace and Chris Clifton, also represent Blitzer, who pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor count of failure to discharge the duties of public office.
His sentencing has been delayed until he can testify in Bradsher's trial, which is set for May 29 in Wake County Superior Court.
Ramey could also potentially be called to the witness stand.
Police charged Snow and three other men in connection with the prostitution of Teresa Vanover’s two teenage daughters in 2015.
Vanover, Thomas “Tommy” Woodall, Everett Ferris Jr. and Donnie Ray Carter pleaded guilty in March and May 2016 and have been serving prison sentences.
Snow, 77, who was once charged with 26 felonies in connection to the prostitution ring, now faces two counts each of statutory rape and statutory sexual offense of a person who is 13, 14 or 15 years old and indecent liberties of a child.
He also faces charges of promoting prostitution of a minor, advancing prostitution of a minor and patronizing a prostitute.
The nine felony charges include four B1 felonies, in which Snow could face up to about 33 years in prison400 months for each count, Coggins-Frank said in court Friday morning.
A trial date for Snow was originally set for mid-February, before Keith sought a delay to look into possible errors in the case.
In December, Keith revealed that Blitzer mislabeled Vanover’s daughters as mentally disabled, which led to charges being dropped or changed.
The errors led officials to start a review of 16 cases handled by Blitzer from start to finish.
Before he resigned in March 2017, Blitzer served as lead prosecutor against all five defendants involved in the prostitution ring.
On Friday, Poovey denied a request to lower Snow’s bail from $15 million to $5 million.
The trial remains continued indefinitely, however, officials discussed Friday potentially setting a trial date in Catawba County during the summer months.
Poovey declined to approve a withdrawal motion submitted by Snow attorney Mark Bibbs, who was not in court.
Bibbs, who represents Snow in civil matters that will be heard after a criminal trial, faces criminal charges of his own. According to WBTV-TV, Bibbs faces 10 criminal charges in Wake County after the Secretary of State’s Office investigated allegations that he lobbied with lawmakers without a license.