Columbus County Sheriff resigns effective immediately

Columbus County Sheriff resigns effective immediately
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 7:54 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2022 at 3:28 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Suspended Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene submitted his resignation in a county courtroom during a hearing on the petition to remove him from office on Monday, October 24.

Just as the state prepared to call its first witness in the hearing, Greene’s attorney announced the Sheriff’s resignation. A deputy told WECT that the courtroom was at capacity, and several people were standing outside the courthouse. Most of them cheered when they learned the news.

The rest of the hearing was called off, and District Attorney Jon David says it was no longer necessary due to Greene’s resignation. The criminal investigation continues regarding allegations of misconduct and obstruction of justice committed by Greene and the Sheriff’s Office.

“These allegations speak through time and are disqualifying to anyone seeking to hold the high office of sheriff,” said David in a press release. “Should Greene be successful in the November election, my office would have an ethical obligation to file, and will file, a new Petition to Remove Greene from that term of office based on the allegations alleged in the current Petition to Remove.”

Greene was suspended from office for making racist remarks about his Black employees, but District Attorney Jon David now alleges Greene also abused his power for personal gain by arresting residents who talked down to him and threatening to arrest county commissioners without justification.

An updated petition filed by David on Friday alleged that during Greene’s time in office, the now-suspended Sheriff had a history of threatening residents, deputies and county commissioners.

In court on Monday, Greene’s attorney asked for a motion to continue in light of the amended petition. The judge denied the motion, saying he wanted a motion to continue to come in writing ahead of the hearing because they had canceled all other court matters Monday.

Greene is represented by Michael Mills, the same attorney who at one point represented former Chadbourn Police Chief Anthony Spivey.

The updated petition details an interaction with Jesse Lee Croom, the stepfather of Greene’s opponent in the Columbus County Sheriff race, Jason Soles. The petition states that Croom told Greene that he “needed to grow up” after a commissioner’s meeting in 2020. Croom was then arrested and held until deputies eventually charged Croom with disorderly conduct in a public building.

A judge threw that charge out for being inefficient.

The petition also describes an incident in which Greene was frustrated after commissioners voted against giving the Sheriff’s Office pay increases and riot gear in 2020. The petition states that Greene allowed deputies to line up outside the next meeting. It was further stated that Greene has even threatened to have County Commissioner Buddy Byrd arrested.

In the petition, David writes:

The petition also details a sexual relationship between Greene and a detective under his command, which at some points happened while both Greene and the detective were on duty.

You can read the 54-page amended petition for removal here.

As Greene remains on the ballot for the November election, Columbus County Resident Willie Guinyard questions how Greene can serve in a Sheriff’s capacity again.

“How can he be an effective leader after this? It really is going to be costing the county a lot of money, anything that he does now is going to be tainted. So I mean, we just really should move on,” Guinyard said.

Among those in the courtroom Monday morning was North Carolina NAACP President Deborah Dicks Maxwell. She sys whether Greene is in office or not, he needs to be held accountable.

“His comments were insensitive, prejudicial and inflammatory, and no one in public office elected or appointed should make such comments like that,” Maxwell said. “We need to take even stronger corrective action in Columbus County and anywhere in the state that that happens.”

A small group of Greene’s supporters declined to speak with our team at the courthouse.

Meanwhile, the State Bureau of Investigations continues a criminal investigation into Greene and the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.