Former Animal Control director files complaint against DA

County of Columbus

Former Animal Control Director Joseph Prince has asked the state Attorney General to investigate alleged improper actions in the District Attorney’s office.

Prince resigned as director of the department in 2017, and was arrested the following May on charges he stole $1,500 from a GoFundMe account. The funds were to be used for animal beds, heart worm treatments and other items for specific rescue pets. Prince said he has receipts to show the money was spent properly, and he offered to refund the donors after he left the county’s employment.

In September 2019, Prince’s attorney Kevin Bullard asked the county to produce emails related to the case. County Attorney Amanda Prince said today that the county did not have an email retention program until 2018. 

A 2009 state law requires retention of emails between department heads and their officials.

“All emails sent over the county server were not automatically saved until 2018,” Attorney Prince said in an email. “I did not begin working here until after the emails were automatically saved.  I would assume that it was each employee’s responsibility to preserve their own records but am not sure.” 

In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Josh Stein, the State Bar and the N.C. Administrative Office of the courts, Prince asked that Stein determine why the emails, which are public record, were destroyed. 

Prince’s case has been continued multiple times since his arrest. In his letter to Stein, Prince said he believes the continuances – all of which have been requested by the state or the court – are an attempt to wear him down to avoid a trial.

“District Attorney Jon David’s office seemingly  does not want this case to go to trial,” Prince wrote. “While I was Animal Control Director his office pressured me to commit perjury in a case brought by the Whiteville Police Department. I do not believe his office wishes this information made public and is therefore consistently delaying my trial.”

Prince said in the letter that his criticism of the DA’s handling of animal abuse cases led to retaliation by the prosecutor.
“Despite promises to do so, they refused to prosecute a case where I was threatened to be killed while on duty. I had witnesses, but that didn’t seem to matter,” Prince wrote.

David denied the allegations, and said he was surprised at the request for an inquiry.

“I was unaware of the defendant’s complaint until notified by the media earlier today (Thursday),” David said. “The allegations are blatantly false… My office has been diligently working with the defendant’s attorney for a resolution in this matter. Apparently, the defendant’s attorney was unaware of his complaint or that his client was speaking with the media.

“I categorically deny that my office would ever initiate a prosecution to punish someone for the exercise of their first amendment rights. I was unaware of any of Mr. Prince’s prior statements in the press until I read them in his complaint,” David added.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and the News Director for WTXY AM1540 & Kool 103.9FM Radio. He can be reached at (910) 632-4965, or by email at