COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Chief Deputy Aaron Herring is running the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Whiteville News Reporter, despite a public statement by attorneys representing Sheriff Jody Greene and former Sheriff Lewis Hatcher that another member of the law enforcement agency would take over day-to-day responsibilities until the state can resolve protests in the disputed sheriff race.
In a joint statement on Feb. 7, attorneys Oscar Blanks and Boyd Worley, representing Hatcher and Greene, respectively, said Hatcher had agreed to dismiss his lawsuit seeking reinstatement to the top law enforcement spot in Columbus County, and Greene had agreed to let Captain Jason Soles assume day-to-day operations of the office.
Other specifics of the settlement were kept confidential.
Herring, who worked for the Whiteville Police Department before being hired by Greene, told the News Reporter the sheriff’s department is being run in accordance with the statutory guidelines, which place the chief deputy in charge when a sheriff is not in the office.
“Jody Greene is still the elected sheriff of this county,” Herring told the News Reporter. “There have been no changes in the command structure at the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.”
Last week, Columbus County Attorney Amanda Prince confirmed there had been no changes in position classification or pay for Greene, Soles, or Herring.
Reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, Blanks said: “We are looking into this. We want to be sure that the settlement agreement is being followed because the public has been promised [Soles would take over].”
Worley could not explain why Soles was not in charge as stated in the Feb. 7 announcement, according to the News Reporter.
The State Board of Elections is expected to hold hearings on the pending protests, though a date has not been set. Greene’s place of residence, as well as an unusually high number of missing absentee ballots, are the basis for the pending elections challenge.
A message left for Herring was not immediately returned.