Startt pleads guilty to 253 counts of terrorism, 251 counts of making false bomb reports

Special to the O-N-E

The man accused of making false bomb threats last summer in Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties will spend at least 11 years of active prison time after pleading guilty to charges of terrorism and making false bomb reports during Burke County Superior Court Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.

Cody Matthew Startt, 27, of Matoaka, W.Va., entered his guilty plea to 253 counts of terrorism and 251 counts of making false bomb reports, and was given an active prison sentence of 11 to 21 years to be served in the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections by the Honorable W. Todd Pomeroy, Superior Court Judge from Lincoln County.

Startt faces pending matters of the same nature in Caldwell and Catawba counties. He is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in those counties.

Assistant District Attorney Scott Lippert arraigned the defendant and presented a factual basis for the case prior to District Attorney David Learner’s sentencing argument on behalf of the State.

Judge Pomeroy also imposed judgments for an additional 10 to 20 years of suspended sentences for Startt and placed him on supervised probation over a period of 36 months. If he violates the terms of his probation, those sentences will be activated, and Startt will serve the time at the end of his initial active sentence.

Startt was arrested on July 6, 2016, in West Virginia for making more than 400 bomb threats in Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties following a large-scale investigation by local, state and federal authorities.

“His actions cost a huge amount of money to fire, police and other emergency agencies and workers. All these units that had to respond to these bomb threats were not available to handle anything else going on,” Learner said. “Plus, he cost merchants a lot of money, and he caused a lot of fear throughout our communities.”

Chief Ronnie Rector of the Morganton Department of Public Safety also addressed the court, noting the stress that Startt’s actions placed on law enforcement with regard to treating each report as a real threat to life.

The defendant was convicted in October 2015 on three counts of making false bomb reports in May 2015. When he was arrested last summer, Startt admitted to violating terms of his probation by absconding from supervision, being in arrears of court indebtedness and failing to complete court-directed community service. His probation was revoked in July 2016 in Catawba County, activating a prison sentence of four to 14 months that Startt served in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

Learner and Lippert prosecuted the cases for the District Attorney’s Office.