Featured photo: Jody Greene spoke with supporters during his swearing-in ceremony last month (photo by Sarah Nagem)
This story was originally published by NC Policy Watch
Jody Greene resigned last week, six days after he was sworn in for a second term as Columbus County sheriff.
Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser initially suspended Greene on Oct. 4 at the request of local District Attorney Jon David. The move came shortly after a 2019 phone call in which Greene made racist remarks was released to the media.
Greene, who was first elected in 2018 as Columbus County’s first Republican sheriff, resigned on Oct. 24 at the start of a hearing to determine whether he would be removed from office. He won re-election on Nov. 8, beating Democratic challenger Jason Soles, who recorded the phone call.
Moments after Greene was sworn in on Thursday for a second four-year term, David re-filed a petition asking for Greene’s suspension and ultimate removal. In court documents, David accused Greene of corruption and maladministration in office, including racially profiling sheriff’s office employees.
Here’s more about the allegations against Greene.
‘I’m sick of these Black bastards. I’m gonna clean house and be done with it.’
‘If you ain’t with me – I ain’t referring to you – but if they’re not with me, they’re against me. And they’re gone.’
‘(Expletive) them Black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid.
Clementine Brown, who worked with the sheriff’s office since 1998 and was the only Black woman on the command staff, says she was demoted in January 2019 and was forced to take a $10,000 annual pay cut. She was fired in the summer of 2020 after she says she forgot to scan five bags of pecans at a self-checkout at Walmart and quickly returned the items to the store. A lieutenant with the Whiteville Police Department says the sheriff’s office urged him to press charges against Brown but he declined.
Melvin Campbell, who spent nearly three decades with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, started working at the sheriff’s office in 2016. He says he was fired in January 2019 by then-Chief Deputy Aaron Herring, who told him that Greene no longer needed his services. In an affidavit, he said he never was disciplined during his time in the sheriff’s office.
In an affidavit, Whiteville City Manager Darren Currie said an “irate” Greene called him in late 2019 after Jason Soles, a former sheriff’s office employee, was hired by the Whiteville Police Department. Greene allegedly told Currie that Soles was not permitted on county property.
Soles’ step-father, Jason Lee Croom, was arrested in March 2020 after telling Greene he “needed to grow up,” court records show. The charge was ultimately discharged.
In the summer of 2020, Greene threatened to remove air conditioners from a school property that was being used for court purposes during the coronavirus pandemic, former County Commissioner Paisley Edwin Russ said in an affidavit. The conversation occurred shortly after the Board of Commissioners declined Greene’s request for riot gear and larger pay increases for sheriff’s employees.
At a board meeting soon after, several deputies lined up in an apparent attempt to intimidate county commissioners, court records show.
Also in 2020, Greene’s deputies arrested County Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd on suspicion of property crimes. An outside “conflict prosecutor” said the charge should be dismissed.
The alleged affair took place between September 2019 and May 2020 and occurred during times when Greene and/or the employee were on duty, according to court documents. A deputy said in an affidavit that the woman got pregnant with Greene’s child and had an abortion in Wilmington.
After a man being held at the Columbus County Detention Center was beaten by four other inmates last summer, District Attorney David asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the incident. Agents determined that jail staff failed to conduct mandatory checks, and video showed that detention officers didn’t see or respond to the beating until about 20 minutes had passed, according to court records.
Sarah Nagem is the editor of the Border Belt Independent, a nonprofit newsroom serving Bladen, Columbus, Robeson and Scotland counties that first published this report.
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