A Raleigh man received a lengthy prison sentence Tuesday morning in Wilkes Superior Court for his part in a 2010 home invasion and robbery spree in Ashe and Wilkes counties and is to serve a Tennessee term of 30-years concurrently with his North Carolina term in the same crime spree. James Ray Hugus, 60, pleaded guilty to a number of felonies, including multiple counts of first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, impersonating an officer, first-degree burglary, breaking and entering and larceny. He was sentenced by Judge Julia Lynn Gullett to a total of not less than 25 nor more than 31 years in prison, possibly to be a life term as state law requires that the lower part of the sentence—25 years in this case—be served without possibility of parole.  The Wilkes Journal-Patriot reports that Chad Norman Collins, 41, of Wilkesboro, was convicted by a jury in Wilkes Superior Court on charges arising from the same conspiracy and, on April 9th, received a sentence of 32 to 42 years. The paper said both Hugus and Collins received even harsher sentences due to their wearing bulletproof vests during the commission of the burglaries. Robert Lee “Robbie” Miller Jr., 35, of Champion-Mount Pleasant Road and Larry Thomas Greer, 37, of Laurel Springs are still awaiting trial on the same charges. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot said Ronda resident Jason Aldean Carter testified during the trial that Hugus, Collins and Miller, dressed as federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents and wearing bulletproof vests, came into his mobile home with handguns drawn, zip tied his hands behind his back and similarly bound his ankles. The men had fake search warrants and said they were at the residence to look for a large amount of cash and drugs related to the drug business, according to his testimony.
The Tennessee charges arose from a series of crimes committed during a home invasion at the residence of Arvil and Margaret Clark in Laurel Bloomery. That investigation led to charges being filed against Hugus, Collins, Miller and Greer in connection with four home invasions in Ashe County’s Crumpler community. Guns, cash, electronics and $200,000 in silver bars were stolen in these incidents.