Thank you for the opportunity to assist you!
In most states, the crime of receiving stolen goods means that a person takes possession of stolen goods from another person knowing or having reason to know
that the goods were stolen. A person is guilty of a felony when the value of the goods received is over a certain amount, for example, $1,000 or greater, and a misdemeanor when the value of the goods is less than the felony amount.
Unfortunately, the jury must have believed that your friend had reason to know
the goods were stolen, and they believed that the goods received were valued at $1,000 or more, since they and convicted your friend of at least one felony charge. Sadly, at this point, there are not a lot of options going forward. I will explain why.
You asked about the undercover officer and how his actions impacted the case. It is possible (but unlikely) that your friend could have used the the defense of entrapment. This has to be raised at or before trial. It does not sound like entrapment would have worked, however, based on what you've said. Entrapment is where the defendant says, "Yes, I did these actions, but the government actor (i.e. the police officer) coerced me into doing a criminal act that I would not have done otherwise." Entrapment is exceedingly difficult to prove, and really requires over-reaching and coercive conduct by the government. I don't see that in what you described. Besides, if the defense was not raised at trial, it is a lost cause at this point. Unfortunately, it appears that the officer simply provided your friend with the opportunity to commit a crime but did not otherwise coerce him into doing something wrong.
You mentioned your friend's appeal. Most people do not understand how an appeal works. Many people believe that when a person appeals his or her case to a court of appeals, the person gets a "do over." Not so. I mention this because you discussed the facts of your friend's case a lot in the background to your question. It sounds like you believe, and I tend to agree with you, that the facts of the case in no way showed your friend was doing anything wrong. Unfortunately, the jury did not agree with our side. They believed that the circumstances were such that your friend was guilty of the charge. It is extremely rare, if ever, that an appellate court (such as the North Carolina Supreme Court) will ever reconsider the facts of the case in the way you, your friend (or I for that matter) would like.
Courts of appeal only review for legal errors made before, during, or after trial. One generally does not appeal and say, "Wait a minute; that jury must have been crazy to believe the prosecutor! I'm innocent, I swear!" The appellate court does not substitute its own judgment in place of the judge or jury who heard the trial, since the appellate court judges cannot be present for trial, see and observe witnesses and judge their credibility, etc.
I can think of two ways to go forward from this point:Habeas corpus
Your friend should looking into filing a writ of habeas corpus. He needs to get a lawyer to help him with this, as this area of the law is very complex. This is a different way to attack a person's conviction after trial on grounds other than the appeal did. It is called a "collateral attack." Your friend can attack certain actions (or lack thereof) taken by the prosecutors before or during trial. Your friend can also attack his trial attorney and claim that his attorney was constitutionally ineffective during the trial and that, but for the serious errors the attorney made, your friend would not have been found guilty. Just as in an appeal, there are certain time deadlines and procedures that have to be followed, or his habeas petition might be forever barred. If he wants to investigate this route, he needs to start immediately.Pardon or clemency
The other solution might be to apply for clemency or a pardon from the governor of North Carolina. Again, this is a complex process and your friend needs an attorney for this as well. If your friend is granted clemency or a pardon, then his conviction would effectively be wiped out as if it never existed.
As for a counterclaim, there is no such thing in criminal law in the United States. That is a concept embraced in the civil area of our law, such as in contract law.
In order to find a good attorney, call the North Carolina State Bar
at(NNN) NNN-NNNNand ask for a referral to an attorney who practices criminal appeals and habeas corpus law. If your friend wants to go the clemency/pardon route, he will need to ask for that as well. (Habeas and clemency are specialty areas of the law, and not a lot of people do those.)
I regret I am not able to provide you with a magic solution for this very real and troubling problem. However, if you have found my response helpful, please rate it positively so that I can receive credit for my work. Thank you for the opportunity to assist you. I wish you and your friend the very best of luck with this matter!