COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The sheriff’s race in Columbus County took another unexpected turn, or two, on Thursday.
Lewis Hatcher’s attorney, Oscar Blanks, released a copy to WECT of a joint statement late Thursday night from his client and Jody Greene. The statement said they’d reached an agreement that results in Hatcher dismissing his lawsuit and Greene allowing someone else to take over as acting sheriff until state elections officials can resolve pending disputes about the election.
The joint statement reads:
"On February 7, 2019, Lewis Hatcher and Jody Greene entered into a confidential agreement resolving the pending litigation, which was necessitated by unprecedented circumstances in Raleigh related to the lack of a sitting State Board of Elections — circumstances which were not the fault of either Lewis Hatcher or Jody Greene.
"Although the terms of the settlement will remain confidential, the spirit of the agreement is not. Lewis Hatcher and Jody Greene jointly arrived at this agreement in order to set an example for the citizens of Columbus County that there is more that unites our county than divides it. By resolving their disputes and differences Lewis Hatcher and Jody Greene have placed their faith and trust with the State Board of Elections.
“To that end, Lewis Hatcher has agreed to take a voluntary dismissal of his lawsuit, while Jody Greene agrees that Captain Jason Soles will assume the day to day responsibilities of the office while this matter is pending before the State Board of Elections. This resolution ensures continuity within the Columbus County Sheriff’s Department while awaiting the ultimate decision with the State Board of Elections and ensures that the Columbus County Sheriff’s Department will continue to serve and protect the citizens of Columbus County.”
A voicemail message left for Hatcher has not been returned.
Reached by phone Thursday night, Greene said, “After what (investigative reporter) Ann McAdams has reported about me, I will never give WECT News a comment.”
Greene defeated incumbent Hatcher by 37 votes in the November general election, but Hatcher filed a complaint for injunctive relief, essentially requesting a court remove Greene from office and reinstate Hatcher until the State Board of Elections considered several pending protest appeals filed in connection to the sheriff’s race.