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  • Jefferson Weaver

Greene Hearing Wednesday

Updated: Jan 3

Officials expect a large crowd when Sheriff Jody Greene appears in Superior Court Wednesday for a hearing on whether he can remain in office.

District attorney Jon David filed a new removal petition less than 20 minutes after Greene took the oath of office last week. David’s petition for removal cites maladministration, civil rights violations, sexual harassment and corruption under Green’s administration.

Greene was first elected in 2018. David pursued an earlier removal petition after Democrat challenger Jason Soles shared a 2019 audio of Greene making racially insensitive remarks about black employees. Soles made the secret recording when he was acting as interim sheriff while the courts were determining if Greene or Lewis Hatcher would serve as sheriff. Greene defeated Hatcher by around 35 votes in the 2018 election.

Soles released the recording weeks before early voting started this fall. Soles said he attempted to share the recording with law enforcement, the State Bureau of Investigation, and other officials before releasing it to a Wilmington television station. The governor’s office, SBI, county commissioners, and District Attorney’s office said they did not hear the audio until it was broadcast. Only Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd would listen to the recording, Soles said. Byrd continues to be a vocal critic of Greene, who arrested Byrd for larceny of a storage building. That case was dropped by the courts.

Greene resigned from office Oct. 24 at the beginning of the first removal hearing. In the courtroom, David said that Greene was unfit to hold office, and that if he were elected, David would have a new petition waiting.

Greene defeated Soles by almost 1,600 votes in November.

The new petition accuses Greene of fostering an atmosphere of racial intimidation in the sheriff’s office, both with employees and the public.

The centerpiece affidavit of the complaint is from former Detention Center Clementine Brown. Brown, who is black, was captain at the detention center. The veteran officer was fired in July 2020. She was demoted and instructed to train a replacement in 2019, according to her affidavit. “Greene told me that Dawn Battle would instruct me about my new role at the detention center,” the affidavit reads. “Battle informed me that Greene wanted me to detail for her how to perform my job as Captain of the detention center. Having 20 years of experience at the sheriff’s office, I refuse to instruct Battle on how to perform the duties of my job.”

Brown says she was eventually transferred to the courthouse to handle inmates awaiting trial.

In July 2020, Brown said, she was purchasing ingredients for desserts for her side job when she forgot to scan five packages of pecans at a Whiteville store. Brown said she realized the error when she got home, and immediately contacted the store and tried calling her supervisors.

“I made these calls because I knew there was a target on my back,” Brown said.

She said she spoke to the manager at the store, paid for the items, and returned home. Several days later, she was suspended for three days, and on her return Brown was told she was terminated.

“I was aware that Greene had made a comment early in his administration that he could not ‘afford to fire anymore blacks’ after he had fired Melvin Campbell,” the affidavit says.

Brown was not criminally charged in the pecan incident. Jeremy Barber completed an internal affairs investigation at the sheriff’s office, Brown said, and cited Brown for abuse of position and conduct unbecoming an officer. Brown said that Barber told her he was ordered to charge her.

Brown says in the affidavit that then-Chief Deputy Aaron Herring pressured Lt. Andre Jackson of the Whiteville Police to charge Brown. In his own affidavit, Jackson said he was “contacted by numerous members of the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office on numerous occasions about Whiteville Police initiating an investigation against Brown.

“Some of the calls came from the top of the command staff, but I do not recall specifically who I spoke to from the sheriff’s office.”

Because of the volume of calls, Jackson said, he initiated an investigation into the pecan incident. He interviewed Brown by telephone, and reviewed security footage from Walmart Loss Prevention.

“I determined that there was certainly not enough evidence to determine that Brown had any intent to commit larceny or shoplifting offense.”

Jackson said that while he was viewing the video, a deputy was sent to Walmart to watch it at the same time.

Jackson said that Walmart was not the complainant in the case, and that it actually appeared the sheriff’s office was the complainant.

“The incident was so minor I did not prepare a report on it,” Jackson said in the statement. “I was aware that there was a lot going on at the sheriff’s office during this time…

“It appeared to me that the sheriff’s office was attempting to get (WPD) to charge Brown as a basis for her termination. I felt very uncomfortable with the situation, as I truly believed that absolutely no crime had been committed.”

Jackson’s statement was just one of several conflicts between Greene and the city, according to the petition. City Manager Darren Currie said in his affidavit that after Soles was hired by the WPD in 2019, Greene threatened to arrest Soles if Soles went to the jail or sheriff’s office. Soles resigned from the WPD about three weeks after that incident.

The new petition also repeats WPD Patrolman Joshua Harris’ description of then-Chief Deputy Aaron Herring choking a student at Whiteville High. Harris statement also details incidents while he was with the sheriff’s office that he said he felt were targeting him because he is black. Harris quit the sheriff’s office after he said he was accused by Greene of being disloyal and working behind the scenes against Greene.

Jesse Croom’s complaint against Greene is also in the new petition. Croom is Soles’ stepfather, and was arrested after an altercation with Greene outside a county commissioners’ meeting.

Complaints by former Commissioner Edwin Russ and Commissioner Giles Byrd were also carried over in the new complaint.

Former sheriff’s candidate Victor Jacobs’ detailed account of an alleged affair between Greene and former Investigator Samantha Hickman was also continued to the new complaint. Hickman denied the affair in an exclusive interview with

The petition also contains earlier claims from Carol Caldwell, Andy Anderson and Franklin Thurman detailing alleged acts of intimidation by Greene or the sheriff’s office against blacks.

Parking will be limited directly in front of the courthouse annex Wednesday. The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

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