Sheriff Ron Hewett Suspended From Office

BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- The Brunswick County District Attorney's office has taken steps to remove Sheriff Ron Hewett from office.  Coroner Greg White will act as the sheriff in his place.

Friday, things ran as they normally would at the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Hewett has been suspended, pending a court hearing scheduled for Monday.

If Hewett is permanently removed Monday, the Democratic party will meet within 10 days.  After they meet, they have 30 days to forward their pick for replacement to the county commissioners office.

Democratic head, Vernon Ward has known Hewett since 1980, but said his focus is on the job at hand, not his relationship with the sheriff.

A formal petition from Rex Gore signed by Judge Ola Lewis officially removed Ron Hewett from his position as sheriff of Brunswick County Thursday night.

Gore's investigation is hundreds of pages long.  There is a binder with dozens of affidavits, recorded phone calls, and depositions from fellow deputies, detectives, SBI agents, and more.

What they say inside the binder is nothing short of shocking.

Hewett is accused of being intoxicated while on the job, putting citizens in danger.

The main accusations against the former sheriff are that he was on prescription pills several times on the job; including while he was behind the wheel of a Brunswick County deputy car, and when he arrived on crime scenes ranging from traffic stops to homicides.

A detective described Hewett arriving to crime scenes with slurred speech, red glassy eyes, and being unsteady on his feet.

The report also notes Hewett showing up at active SWAT scenes with his 17-year-old son, Justin, interfering with evidence and putting other deputies in danger.

Gore didn't say much about whether criminal charges will follow for Hewett.

It is our understanding that this is a separate action from the Grand Jury proceeding looking into Hewett's actions.

Those proceedings began more than a year ago when Hewett, his family, friends, and deputies were served with subpoenas.

The most recent action on that front was in January when more subpoenas were served.

Those Grand Jury proceedings are closed, and no one has spoken about the exact nature of the investigation.

There will be a closed door meeting Friday with the employees at the Sheriff's Department, and a formal hearing for the petition on Monday at noon.

Hewett is not required to attend that meeting, but it will give his lawyers an opportunity to challenge the petition.

Meanwhile, the Brunswick County Democratic chairman is reviewing what his party may have to do in regards to picking a replacement sheriff pending the outcome of Monday's hearing.

To read previous reports about Hewett, click here.

Stay with WECT as this story develops.

Reported by Kim Gebbia