ROCK HILL — The mother of the Rock Hill native police say was the ringleader of a gunrunning ring that led to the largest seizure of illegal weapons in New York City history said Thursday her son is sorry for the hurt his accusations have caused his family and community.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald, Carol Roseboro, mother of Earl Campbell Jr., said she had no knowledge of his dark side.
She said her son is not the ringleader of the gun scheme that police say sought to capitalize on the ease of buying guns in South Carolina and selling them in New York where gun laws are much more strict.
Roseboro said she never saw any guns at her home during the times her son was there.
But police and court documents allege Campbell, 23, was at the center of the gun purchases, transportation and sales, and stood to make huge profits from the scam. Campbell made at least two dozen trips to New York with guns and argued with underlings over profits, police say.
Roseboro did not claim that her son is innocent. She did say that Campbell is only accused and has not been found guilty of anything, and she asked people to reserve judgment until the court case is resolved.
She acknowledged that her son has been accused of some terrible things.
The publicity has affected her son, Roseboro said, to the point that he is now on suicide watch in the Mecklenburg County jail, where he is in custody under $1 million bond.
New York officials announced Monday that he and 18 others had been arrested in the gun-running scheme that originated in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Campbell is accused by police and prosecutors in New York of being the South Carolina kingpin by recruiting others to get guns and selling them illegally in New York.
According to New York state indictments, Campbell sold 90 guns for about $75,000 from October to July during 24 meetings with an undercover officer. Campbell routinely requested photos of guns from his conspirators in Rock Hill, bought the guns from them, then delivered the guns to New York, police say.
Campbell and his girlfriend would take a bus to New York to sell the guns, police say. The scam was blown apart by an undercover law enforcement operation that led to the arrests of Campbell and 18 others.
Police in York County helped with the investigation and arrests and stand by the case against Campbell that paints him as the ringleader in South Carolina, said Marvin Brown, commander of the county drug unit that assisted New York authorities.
Campbell was indicted earlier this month on 237 felonies and arrested Aug. 5 in Charlotte, but the police undercover operation was not disclosed until Monday.
The case has attracted national media attention because of the New York connection, as well as throwing a spotlight on Rock Hill and South Carolina as the source for the gun pipeline that law enforcement has stated supplied New York with more than 250 guns, ranging from assault weapons to pistols.
I would like the nation to know, as well as the community to know, that my son has a good side, Roseboro said.
Roseboro is the second mother of accused members of the gun-running conspiracy to claim in interviews with The Herald to have no knowledge of their adult childrens alleged criminal acts before the arrests.
Campbell has a prior conviction for resisting arrest, yet his mother said he is a caring sibling. He played sports at Northwestern High School and before that in junior leagues, his mother said.
But Campbell has not lived with her at her Rolling Green Drive home in Rock Hill since soon after high school, she said. He lived mainly in New York where he attended college for a time and worked in jobs including sunglasses and clothing stores, she said.
Campbell took violin lessons as a child and was a good kid, Roseboro said.
Campbell moved back to South Carolina months ago, Roseboro said, but not to her home. He then moved to a Charlotte apartment with his girlfriend, she said.
Thats where Campbell was arrested, Brown confirmed.
The girlfriend, Kendall Jones, also originally from Rock Hill, faces five felony gun charges in the police sting.
In documents, police listed Campbells address as his mothers home. His S.C. driver license, still valid, shows Rolling Green Drive as his address, Brown said.
According to police and court documents, the charges could not be more serious.
Campbell faces the potential of life in prison if convicted of all the charges. For the charge of criminal sale of a firearm alone, which can carry up to 25 years in prison per count, Campbell faces 164 counts.
Campbell has so far fought extradition to New York, and it is unclear when his next court hearing in Charlotte will be.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065