Court documents confirm federal investigation of Columbus County sheriff-elect

Recently filed court documents have confirmed there is an ongoing federal investigation of Columbus County Sheriff-elect Jody Greene.
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 5:07 PM EST
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Recently filed court documents have confirmed there is an ongoing federal investigation of Columbus County Sheriff-elect Jody Greene.

District Attorney Jon David had previously announced a state probe into potential criminal conduct by Greene and deputies under his command during Greene’s first term in office. David detailed numerous allegations of corruption and other misconduct in court paperwork seeking Greene’s removal from office, which was prompted by a WECT investigative report about racist comments made by Greene in a recorded phone call in 2019.

Greene ultimately resigned from office just weeks before his first term was set to end but won his bid for re-election in November. He has yet to be sworn in due to election protests; appeals for the two protests were recently dismissed by the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Rumblings of a possible federal investigation began when many key players close to the situation reportedly received federal subpoenas. But a search warrant obtained by WECT has confirmed the existence of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of N.C.

The warrant was filed earlier this month by Erich Von Hackney, an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office. Six pages of the 14-page warrant, however, were sealed by a judge.

“Affiant further advises the Court that this is an on-going investigation involving numerous state and federal agencies of a confidential and sensitive nature and that no criminal charges have been brought to date,” court documents state.

“Release of the affidavit for public consumption during the course of the investigation could possibly hinder investigative efforts and affect the integrity of the investigation, especially relating to the on-going federal investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina,” the court documents continue.

When applying for a search warrant, investigators are required to submit an affidavit with facts about the investigation that justify the search and seizure of someone’s property. The details provided in these documents oftentimes provide more information about a criminal investigation than what law enforcement agencies are required to provide under state law.

In his application for the warrant, Hackney sought to obtain eight cell phones from the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office’s evidence room, which he wrote would constitute evidence of obstruction of justice and willful misconduct and maladministration.

The cell phones had been seized as part of a separate search warrant served on a home off Dewitt White Lane in Chadbourn in September of last year. A page from that separate warrant, which was included in Hackney’s application, shows deputies with the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office also seized numerous Ziploc bags of white powder and green leafy substances as well as four marijuana plants from the home.

Hackney seized the cell phones from the sheriff’s office’s evidence room, according to an inventory of items seized included with his warrant application.

WECT is working to learn more about the search warrant referenced in Hackney’s application.