Thursday, September 29, 2022

Sheriff Drama in Columbus County


I'm loving me Jane Porter's daily "Indy Week" email blast, and this morning she delivers a doozy about the sheriff mess down in Columbus County. (You can sign up for the newsletter and support independent journalism at

The Drama. The Players

Lewis Hatcher, incumbent sheriff
of Columbus Co. in 2018,
beaten by the guy below by
34 votes

Lewis Hatcher was the incumbent. He was appointed to the vacant job early in 2014 and then went on to win election in his own right in Nov. 2014, with 77.93% of the vote. He's a Democrat. However popular he seemed in 2014 (or hopeful as a new face in the sheriff's office), he had apparently lost the luster by 2018, when he was beaten by just 34 votes by Republican Lewis Hatcher. Or maybe there was fraud in the election.

Hatcher contested the results, and the local board of elections rejected the complaint. Hatcher appealed to the state board (SBOE), which launched an investigation -- actually, not a brand new investigation but an extension of the probe already doing on in Robeson and Bladen counties into the notorious career of one McCrae Dowless (this the investigation that ultimately led to the redo of the 9th CD election and the disgrace of Rev. Mark Harris).

More than 300 votes in the Hatcher race were cast using mail-in absentee ballots, the source of corruption that McCrae Dowless specialized in. But Hatcher won 243 of those absentee votes to his Republican challenger's 93, according to results posted on the state elections board’s website. So...?

When the Republican apparent winner got himself sworn in before the results were certified, Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the SBOE, said, “My understanding is that the county has not issued a certificate in that race, and thus he should not have been sworn in. Sheriff Hatcher should still be serving as sheriff.”

Because the Republican had begun to usurp the office, Lewis Hatcher sued in Superior Court to force Columbus County officials to acknowledge that he is the county’s rightful sheriff, not the man serving in that position, Jody Greene.

Jody Greene, who served as
Columbus sheriff for 3 years
without ever being certified as
the winner of the 2018 election

Jody Greene
, Republican and former highway patrolman, had listed as his place of residence an address that later turned out to be a vacant lot with no structure on it. He later said he was living in a travel trailer at that spot. His campaign also hired the election operations firm of Red Dome, for whom McCrae Dowless had done such energetic work in Robeson County.

Taking charge of the sheriff's office, Greene began smashing the furniture: "When Sheriff Hatcher was in charge, there were two African-Americans on his command staff: Lt. Jeremy Barber and Captain Clementine Thompson. Green demoted Thompson within days of taking office, and cut her pay by $10,000. She was later fired. Barber, formerly the department’s lead detective, was demoted to the civil division. Greene’s command staff, made up of his highest ranking officers, no longer has any minorities." (Indy Week newsletter

A captain on the Columbus force, who got regular ranting phone calls from Jody Greene, judiciously decided to start recording them:

"This one particular phone call that [I] received, he made the comment that he hated Democrats. And then he said, ‘I take that back. I hate a black f***ing Democrat.’ And, and I knew right then, I was like, ‘Wow, this is coming from the sheriff.’ And, I had to start recording those conversations," [the captain] said of the moments before he hit record on the phone call. [That captain becomes a major player in this drama below]

Defeated (?) sheriff Lewis Hatcher and usurper Jody Greene were forced into mediation (which went on for nine hours), after which Hatcher withdrew his law suit and Greene conceded that he would no longer act as sheriff. Greene proposed Deputy Aaron Herring to act in his place as interim.

Deputy Aaron Herring

Aaron Herring already had a bad reputation as a mean racist:

Herring was arrested in 2015, charged with punching a handcuffed black man in the face while serving as a Whiteville Police officer. He was later found not guilty, but that did little to quell concerns in some parts of the community about his treatment of African-Americans. (Indy Week)

Herring had been made Jody Greene's chief deputy, and in that role, he claimed, he was legally mandated to take over sheriff duties. But Herring and Hatcher had signed an agreement that put Captain Jason Soles in charge of day-to-day operations.

Captain Jason Soles, 2022 candidate
for sheriff against former incumbent
Jody Greene

Captain Jason Soles (the captain mentioned above who tape-recorded Jody Greene's phone rants), began to act as interim sheriff and is now in the 2022 election against you-know-who:

Soles, who is now running for Columbus County Sheriff against Jody Greene, said he was concerned that the most powerful law enforcement officer in Columbus County was racist, and would not treat black employees or the residents he policed fairly.

"It broke my heart. Because that’s not what I believe in. It upset me to the fact that I did have to start recording his phone calls. And I’m not wanting to go around recording people’s conversations. But... this was not the leader that we needed leading the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office making these racial slurs," Soles explained.

So Soles recorded calls that captured racist tirades from Greene under the pretense of Greene calling Soles trying to track down a leaker in the sheriff's office and the ranting got worse. Meanwhile, Soles "brought the recording and other concerns about the sheriff to the attention of County Commissioners during a recess at a county commission meeting." Only one county commissioner ... seemed to care [the other commissioners were in Greene's camp].

Just today, this news broke:

North Carolina sheriff Jody Greene was taped on a phone call complaining about a “snitch” in his office who happened to be African-American, WECT reports.

Said Greene: “I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these black bastards. I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”

He added: “Tomorrow’s gonna be a new fucking day. I’m still the motherfucking sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every goddamn [inaudible]. Fuck them black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid. I don’t know what else to do it. So it’s just time to clean them out. There’s a snitch in there somewhere tellin’ what we are doing. And I’m not gonna have it. I’m not going to have it.”


The Era of Trump.


Anonymous said...

Wolf's Head's kinda guy.

Anonymous said...

Being a former state trooper does not make anyone qualified to run a multi-million-dollar, multi-function sheriff's department.