State Rep. Mike Stone (R-Sanford) has been owner of O’Connell’s Supermarket in downtown Jonesboro for the past 14-plus years, in addition to his political stints on the Sanford City Council and North Carolina General Assembly.
But Stone’s store now sits empty — save for a few items inside, a sidewalk bench blocking the door and a “Stone NC House” political sign turned on its side behind a taped-up window — and has a “Sale/Lease” sign near the door. Stone did not respond to an email inquiry from The Rant on Jan. 30 about his business plans or the store’s closing.
Stone, a two-term N.C. House representative for District 51 (which covers Lee and Harnett counties), has owned and operated the store, which dates back to the early 1900s, since at least 2000. Appointed to an at-large seat on the Sanford City Council in 2006, he was re-elected to a full term in 2007. Stone defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Love Sr. for the House seat in 2010 and won re-election in 2012. He’s up for re-election again this fall.
O’Connell’s has been the subject of some controversy for Stone on more than one occasion since 2003. That year, he was entangled in a illegal pirating suit brought on by DirecTV, which filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against Stone and a handful of other defendants for “possession and use of illegal devices and equipment designed to intercept and decrypt DirecTV’s protected satellite communications.” Stone was accused of distributing pirated movies and shows from his store. In 2006, Stone was ordered to pay the satellite giant $10,000 in damages and $780 in fees. DirecTV notified Lee County court officials in 2007 that Stone’s debt was satisfied, but Stone denied ever paying the penalty in an interview with the Sanford Herald and said the company was “convinced he wasn’t the culprit in the case.”
In 2011, Stone removed Internet sweepstakes gaming devices from his store after a critical article in the News & Observer about the store and Stone’s involvement in a Republican House caucus meeting on gaming laws.
In addition to his now former grocery business, Stone is listed in online bios as co-owner of TBS Enterprises Inc., founded in 2008. The company’s address is listed as 2709 Lee Ave. in Sanford, which is the same address as Goodfella’s Private Lounge, which has good wings, fried baloney sandwiches and a “hot waitstaff,” according to this online review. Stone’s annual salary as a state representative is $13,951.