Home Crime Man accused of trying to burn down East Rockingham store

Man accused of trying to burn down East Rockingham store

ROCKINGHAM — A man on probation is accused of trying to set fire to a convenience store over the weekend.

According to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a call Saturday, July 16 at an unnamed convenience store on Mill Road in East Rockingham regarding someone trying to set fire to the building.

When they arrived on scene, deputies reportedly saw smoke coming from the back of the store. According to a press release, that smoke was coming from a stack of burning plastic drink crates against the building.

The caller reportedly gave deputies a description of the suspect — 44-year-old Leon Jefferson Graham, of Rockingham — who was found “a short time later.”

Investigators say Graham had been asked to leave the store earlier in the day “for hanging around in the parking lot.”

According to the sheriff’s office, the store clerk said Graham became irate when he was asked to leave, “so he went back inside until being told that there was a fire at the back of the store.”

Graham was arrested and charged with a felony count of burning other buildings and booked into the Richmond County Jail on a $10,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 4.

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Online court records show Graham has a July 21 court appearance on a charge of second-degree trespassing.

Records with the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction show Graham was convicted in Richmond County on two counts of misdemeanor larceny in late March and was given a 12-month suspended sentence.

Graham was first convicted in Moore County on a drug paraphernalia charge in 2006. The following year, he was convicted of assault on a female and possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. His probation on the drug charge was revoked in 2008, landing him behind bars for five months.

In 2013, Graham was convicted of selling a Schedule III controlled substance, sending him back to prison for four months. Two months after his release, Graham was back on a three-month reimprison violation; and a month after that release was incarcerated for another five months on a post-release revocation.

Records show Graham spent the better part of 2017 behind bars. He was convicted Feb. 10, 2017 on a single count of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. Although he was released March 16, he was back in prison by March 30 due to his probation being revoked. He was released Nov. 5 and his parole ended Dec. 11 of that year.

All defendants facing criminal charges are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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