A North Carolina sheriff facing a slew of corruption accusations—including calling his own employees “snakes” and “Black bastards” and making other racially charged comments—resigned on Monday just before a judge could remove him from office.
But even that won’t stop embattled former Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene from continuing his re-election campaign before voters cast their ballots on Nov. 8.
“There are two weeks left before the election, early voting is in progress, and there is a move afoot to usurp the votes of law-abiding citizens,” Greene wrote on his Facebook page this week. “I cannot afford to spend the next week fighting in a courtroom while we are in the middle of an election to preserve our freedom.”
“I humbly ask for your vote, support, and prayers,” Greene continued. “Also pray for the ones who trespass against me.”
A judge suspended Greene from office earlier this month pending Monday’s hearing to oust the lawman. In a lengthy petition, local district attorney Jon David detailed accusations against Greene that include racial discrimination, sexual misconduct with an employee, and allowing his law enforcement officers to intimidate and even arrest county officials and members of the public for his own gain.
That hearing was over before it had even begun after Greene’s attorney announced the Republican sheriff had resigned.
Greene, who could not be reached on Tuesday, has denied the allegations brought by David and described them as “politically motivated.”
Indeed, the Raleigh News & Observer recently reported that Greene was “flamboyantly pressing forward” with his campaign, even in the face of a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation probe. The newspaper described how at the county fair’s parade this month, the suspended sheriff led his office’s convoy in a black Mercedes SUV, blasting the “Bad Boys” song from the TV show Cops through his speakers.
If his Facebook page is any indication, Greene isn’t without supporters. “You still have my vote always have!” one person wrote in a comment. “Please get rid of the county nuisance when you return to office. Evil shall not prevail.”
But at some locations around the county seat of Whiteville, protesters have raised signs in opposition to Greene and one of his underlings, chief deputy Aaron Herring, who as a Whiteville cop was charged with punching a handcuffed Black man in the face. Herring was found not guilty, however, during a bench trial in 2018.
One early voter at a polling site wore a shirt emblazoned with “#blkbstardsvote,” the News & Observer reported.
Should voters re-elect Greene, David said in a statement on Monday, the district attorney’s office would have an “ethical obligation” to file a new petition to remove him from office.
The district attorney’s amended petition filed Oct. 21 claimed Greene had “committed willful misconduct or maladministration in office” including making racist comments captured in an audio recording and racially profiling his own employees.
The call was recorded in early 2019, when Greene was temporarily suspended from office as state election officials worked to determine whether he actually lived in the county and was eligible for the office. Months before, Greene won the election by a mere 37 votes. Incumbent Lewis Hatcher, the county’s first Black sheriff, had challenged Greene’s victory.
According to the petition, Greene was “convinced there was a leak in his office” and “sought phone records” to see whether Hatcher or a Black sergeant named Melvin Campbell “had been undermining” him. “I’m sick of it,” Greene said in the audio recording. “I’m sick of these Black bastards. I’m gonna clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”
“Tomorrow’s gonna be a new fucking day,” Greene added. “I’m still the motherfucking sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every goddamn [inaudible]. Fuck them Black bastards.”
Greene later added, “I ain’t putting trackers on people but phone records tell the deal… So, just give them a heads up, hell is coming I promise.”
“I’m gonna cut the snake’s fucking head off,” Greene further ranted. “Period… And Melvin Campbell is as big a snake as Lewis Hatcher ever dared to be. Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake!”
The petition states that at least one Black sheriff’s office employee was terminated following the recording. Because of these statements, the document adds, the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program stopped all grant funding to the sheriff's office, citing a potential lack of compliance with the Civil Rights Act.
David also claimed that “the State can no longer call [Greene] as a witness in any criminal hearing based on his racial bias.”
The petition alleges that Greene threatened to have opponents arrested—and even had one of his deputies handcuff a person outside of a county commissioners meeting for telling the sheriff that he “needed to grow up.” At a separate county meeting, the filing adds, Greene permitted several of his officers “to line up in an apparent attempt to intimidate the county commissioners.”
Greene “has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he is willing to misuse the power and authority inherent to the office of sheriff for improper personal and political gain,” the petition states, adding, “He has used his office to hire and fire deputies based on race and to curry political favor.”
“He has abused his power to decide which laws are enforced and against whom they are enforced. He has chilled the First Amendment right of free speech, attempted to improperly influence his negotiations with county commissioners, and unfairly targeted and unjustly arrested citizens.”
Meanwhile, the petition also accuses Greene of having a sexual relationship with a detective under his supervision and alleges that he was “engaging in sex acts” while on duty—alleged acts that “on at least one occasion resulted in damage to county property.” (One former deputy, in an affidavit attached to the petition, says the female employee claimed to have “kicked out” one of the windows in Greene’s county-issued Dodge Durango during one of their alleged escapades.)
In his own affidavit, former sheriff’s captain Jason Soles said he began recording a phone conversation with Greene after he called him at 10 p.m. in February 2019 and began making disturbing statements including, “I hate a Democrat. I take that back. I hate a mother fucking Black Democrat.” Soles is now running against Greene in the election—something Greene has highlighted in Facebook posts questioning Soles’ motivations behind the recording.
County Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd also submitted an affidavit alleging that in summer of 2020, Greene had him arrested for felony property crimes after the board refused Greene’s funding request for a hefty pay increase for sheriff’s employees, as well as $80,000 in riot gear. (In another affidavit, a citizen indicated that Greene had petitioned the county commissioners for riot gear in the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd.)
“I believe that these charges were brought about by Greene in an attempt to influence future votes or retaliate against me for votes that I had made as a Columbus County Commissioner,” Byrd said in the filing. Reports indicate that Byrd was accused of stealing an Amish barn, but that prosecutors dropped the case over a lack of evidence.
Former Deputy Victor Jacobs submitted an affidavit for David’s petition related to the accusations of Greene’s alleged sexual misconduct. Jacobs alleges the female deputy with whom Greene was allegedly having a sexual relationship told him that she was pregnant with Greene’s child and that Greene “was angry about it.”
“She asked me to drive her to get an abortion, but I refused,” Jacobs said in the filing, adding that he resigned from the sheriff’s office in May 2020.
Afterward, Jacobs said, he recorded at least two phone calls that he claims corroborate the affair between the employee and Greene.
This isn’t the first time Greene has made national news.
In December of last year, the nonprofit Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded Greene remove a Bible quote from a wall inside the sheriff’s office. The sheriff refused, and in an agency Facebook post confirmed, “The verse is ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13.’”
“First, the Bible verse was placed on the wall after I took office,” Greene added. “It was paid for with private funds, not with county funding. The verse is one of my favorite Bible verses, and it seemed fitting for all the adversity I have had to endure.”
“It is very motivational to me and my staff,” Greene continued. “Here at the Sheriff’s Office, we work hard in everything that we do. Before we execute a search warrant, or any service that puts our people in immediate harms [sic] way, we ALWAYS go to the Lord with a group prayer. ALWAYS!”
“I am not scared of much, but I am afraid of burning in Hell,” Greene wrote.
He concluded, “So let me be clear, I will not waiver on my stance and Christian beliefs.”