Amended Petition Cites Racism, Threats, Intimidation, Sexual Misconduct
Developing story-- UPDATED 5:53 p.m.
Allegations of intimidation, an extramarital affair, and racist statements were included in the amended petition filed against Sheriff Jody Greene today by District attorney Jon David.
The amended petition comes in advance of Monday’s hearing to determine whether Greene will remain sheriff. Democrat sheriff’s candidate Jason Soles released a three-year-old audio recording of Greene referring to black employees as “black bastards” and promising to fire them. Soles said he attempted to share the recording with the district attorney and county commissioners in 2019, but only one commissioner, Giles “Buddy” Byrd, would listen. David’s office and multiple commissioners denied ever hearing about the recordings until Soles released them to a Wilmington television station.
The petition previously detailed statements from, Melvin Campbell and others who were allegedly fired or pushed out of the Columbus Sheriff’s Office due to being black or because they were thought to support Lewis Hatcher, who Greene narrowly defeated in 2018.
The petition includes statements from former Democrat sheriff’s candidate Victor Jacobs, Rev. Andy Anderson, Carol Caldwell of Whiteville, City Manager Darren Currie, County commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd and former commissioner Edwin Russ, among others. The affidavits accuse Greene of using deputies to intimidate county commissioners, and of having an affair with a detective at the sheriff’s office.
The affidavits stretch back to events that occurred as early as 2019.
The 54-page document states that Greene should be removed from office for willful misconduct and maladministration, racial profiling of employees, corruption, and misuse of power.
When news of the initial complaint against Greene broke in September, the document said, “numerous individuals disclosed a concern about the defendant (Greene) and his agents engaging in intimidation and abusing the defendant’s authority”.
The document goes on to describe a number of incidents involving officials and private citizens, beginning in 2019.
Among the witnesses who approached the DA was City Manager Darren Currie. According to his affidavit, Greene called Currie in November 2019 after Jason Soles went to work with the City of Whiteville.
“During (a) phone call, Defendant was angry that Whiteville Police had hired … Soles. Defendant stated that Soles was not permitted on county property, and he would be arrested and his Whiteville Police vehicle impounded if Soles returned to the jail.
Soles’ stepfather, Jesse Lee Croom, also gave a sworn statement that when he told Greene “to grow up” after a contentious County commissioners meeting, Croom was arrested by deputies and charged with disorderly conduct. Croom and his brother-in-law Ronnie Fisher were at the meeting to criticize the sheriff’s plan to place Animal Protective Services under the sheriff’s office. The charge was eventually dropped.
At loggerheads with two commissioners
Former County Commissioner Edwin Russ gave David a recording of Greene threatening to withhold equipment and personnel in 2020.
When commissioners voted against pay increases for deputies and $80,000 in riot gear, Greene allegedly called Russ and said he would not provide deputies, bailiffs or support equipment for the Hallsboro court annex. He also threatened to call the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over mold issues at the sheriff’s office.
In that conversation, the affidavit said, Greene threatened to have a commissioner arrested for larceny. Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd was later arrested for stealing a storage building from a lot at a campground he partially owns. Those charges were eventually dropped.
At a later meeting, the court document said, Greene instructed deputies to line both sides of the walkway commissioners used to enter the building “in an attempt to intimidate the county commissioners.”
Byrd’s affidavit said that he believed his arrest was “brought about by Greene in an attempt to influence future votes or retaliate” for other votes.
Affair with detective
In an affidavit signed by Victor Jacobs – who ran against Soles for the Democrat nomination -- Greene is also alleged to have had an affair with Investigator Samantha Hickman over the course of several months., The relationship “interfered with the necessary and proper administration” of the CCSO, the affidavit said. The affair was “known by multiple co-workers” and “negatively impacted the working environment of the office as a whole.”
Greene and Hickman allegedly met in a home Greene owns in Cherry Grove, S.C., a shooting range, and elsewhere. They drove county owned vehicles to the meetings, the affidavit said. A window was allegedly kicked out of the sheriff’s vehicle during one sexual encounter.
Jacobs said in his statement that Hickman confided in him about the relationship, leading Jacobs to record two separate conversations where she allegedly confirmed the affair.
Jacobs also said that Hickman asked him to drive her to Wilmington for an abortion, according to the affidavit. Hickman drove herself to the medical appointment, Jacobs said.
Former Deputy Matthew Parker said he witnessed “playful and flirtatious” behavior between Hickman and Greene that “made him feel uncomfortable. The rumored affair was one reason he left the agency in 2019. While he was working at the Whiteville Police, Parker said he was approached about a supervisor’s position with Bladen County. However, when he accepted the position, Parker said he was told Greene called Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker. Parker was then told he would only carry the rank of detective, because his “politics” had “followed me over.”
Alleged threats to black leaders
Rev. Anthony “Andy” Anderson said in his statement that he met Greene through his wife Angie, and “followed the residency challenges during the (2018) election.
“While attending the local residency hearings,” Anderson said, “three of Greene’s friends told me they were tired of my mouth and my outspoken stance against Greene.”
At the State Board of Elections hearing, Anderson said, an individual “said we need to do something about these preachers, and we need to start with Andy Anderson.”
Anderson also detailed a private conversation with Greene at a commissioners’ meeting, and said “Greene has clearly indicated that he has an issue with people of color that he employed.”
Carol Caldwell of the Columbus DREAM Center said in her statement that her concerns with Greene began with the residency hearings, and grew worse as time went by.
“…when Greene petitioned the Columbus County Commissioners for riot gear in the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd,” she said in the statement.
Caldwell and City Attorney Carlton Williamson both said that they are concerned Greene’s tenure will affect economic development in the county.
County Democrat Party Chair Franklin Thurman said he was harassed by Chief Deputy Aaron Herring while heading to a Soles campaign event earlier this year. He also said that nine deputies in marked cars were stationed outside a local meeting of the NAACP where Green was the subject of conversation. Around 300 people attended the meeting, Thurman said.
“When I went out to speak to the deputies, all of them left,” Thurman said. “Several minutes later, deputies returned to the road in front of the building.” The deputies left again when Thurman approached them, he said.
“This felt like an intimidation tactic to me.”
Former deputy Joshua Harris, who is black, said he was a deputy in the civil division when Greene took office. He said Greene threatened him with dismissal in a telephone call when Greene questioned Harris’ support. Harris said he supported his elected sheriff, but did not take sides in the election.
The weekend before the telephone call, Harris said he was invited to a residence that was hosting a social event for the sheriff. Harris said he had been to the home multiple times in years past. When he approached the home, the affidavit said, he was barked at by a coonhound. The owner of the dog allegedly said the dog “knew a coon when he saw one.” After that, Harris said, he no longer felt comfortable attending events at the home, although he was urged by a supervisor to do so, because the sheriff would be watching to see who attended. Harris eventually went to work with Whiteville Police, rather than take a position as a school resource officer with the county. He said that in 2021, he responded to a call for an officer needing assistance at Whiteville High. A developmentally disabled student was being held facedown with his hands underneath his body, Harris said. The student had knocked the SRO’s microphone off during the struggle.
The incident was over when Harris said Chief Deputy Aaron Herring arrived and put a chokehold on the student for 15-30 seconds.
“As he was choking the student,” Harris said in the statement, “he stated ‘Give me your f------ hands. You aren’t going to treat one of my deputies this way.” Harris said he immediately reported the incident to his supervisor at the police department.
The document also alleges that an inmate was seriously assaulted by four other inmates at the County Detention Center after staff failed to perform safety checks for 20 minutes. The inmate was hospitalized with severe brain trauma. Greene did not provide updates to David about improvements at the jail in the wake of the beating, the document said.
David said the amended petition provides proof that Green should be removed from office.
“He has abused his power to decide which laws are enforced and against whom they are enforced,” the document said. “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.”
The complete document is below.