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Sheriff Hewett indicted with embezzlement, obstruction

READ MORE: Sheriff Hewett indicted with embezzlement, obstruction
hewett300.jpg

BOLIVIA -- Removed from office last week, Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett was indicted on four criminal charges today.

Hewett's problems have grown dramatically since a federal investigation was launched in June. As that process was dragging on in Raleigh, many of Hewett's own deputies were helping to amass a case against him here at home.

Ron Hewett entered the courtroom flanked by his lawyers -- a courtroom with many of his supporters present.

But this time Hewett sat on the defendant's side of the room, the prosecutor not his ally but his accuser.

Angie Robinson said she wasn't there for the sheriff, she was there for her lifelong friend "Ronnie" and to hear if his suspension would be made permanent. That would become the lesser of his problems.

 

more on the hewett story here...

There was a stunning shift of directions in that courtroom. What started as a hearing on his suspension turned into a presentation of criminal charges against Ron Hewett: three counts of embezzlement and one count of obstruction of justice -- all of which carry lengthy prison terms if convicted.

 

The three embezzlement counts by a public official involve using more than $1,300 in county money to paint campaign signs, guard his home and do work on his property.

The obstruction count accuses Hewett of ordering a detective not to arrest a relative of the sheriff in a child molestation case because it could be politically damaging.

Some were surprised by the timing.

District Attorney Rex Gore said, "The criminal process and the petition to remove were moving on parallel tracks. We got the petition to remove ready last week and filed that knowing we had scheduled the grand jury hearing for the true bills that were returned today."

As deputies looked on, the man who had been their boss was ordered not to have contact with any of them who had sworn affidavits against him. All guns were ordered removed from his possession, and Judge Ola Lewis set a $25,000 secured bond.

Ron Hewett had nothing to say as he and his wife left the court house, but those who watched the proceedings had some strong opinions.

Courtroom spectator Erica Ramsey said, "I'm glad that they got him on this, and I wish someone would look -- it goes farther than this, I'm pretty sure."

Courtroom spectator Joyce Elliott said, "I'm sick at heart. I've know Ronnie for a long time. I was a fifth grade teacher when he was a DARE officer. He did a lot of good things for Brunswick County. If he was guilty I'd have to hear him admit it to believe it."

Unless there's some kind of plea bargain deal looming, that will become the task of a jury.

Hewett could face more than 12 years in prison if convicted on all counts. No charges have yet been filed in the federal investigation.

The hearing on his suspension has been rescheduled for May 5. County Coroner Greg White will continue as acting sheriff in the interim.

Hewett suspended Thursday

Hewett was suspended Thursday night after Rex Gore filed a petition for his removal. The grounds: neglect or refusal to perform the duties of his office, willful misconduct or maladministration in office, extortion and intoxication.

Gore presented a binder full of evidence to back up the charges. It includes more than 20 affidavits, most of them from deputies and most of them containing some damning statements. There were also supporting photos and audio recordings of Hewett's activities. Gore said some of Hewett's own deputies were instrumental in building this case.

"They had begun the process before we joined forces with our investigation," Gore said.

Several deputies arriving for work at the Sheriff's Office in Bolivia Friday morning had no comment for NewsChannel 3 about their boss's suspension.

Gore's evidence includes several phone calls between Hewett and other members of the Sheriff's Office. In a call with Capt. Kevin Holden on August 16, 2007, Hewett appears to speak of suicidal plans as he tells Holden that many of Hewett's friends won't take or return his calls in the midst of an investigation of the sheriff by a federal grand jury.

(Listen)

"I know you are down," Holden tells the Sheriff. "I'm trying to bring you back up."

Hewett responds: "There ain't no bringing me back up. I'm looking for a bank robbery in (expletive deleted) progess. That's what I want."

Hewett won't explain what he means by looking for a bank robbery. But several minutes later, he brings it up again, telling Holden that dying would be better than what he was going through.

(Listen)

"I'm telling you, something's (expletive deleted) up. And they think I know it," Hewett said. "I don't know it. And go ahead and kill me. Take the .357 and kill my ass. Like I said, I'm looking for me a damn bank, man. Mitch Prince got a hell-of-a lot better end then I did."

Mitch Prince was a Boiling Spring Lakes police officer killed in the line of duty in January 2005.

Hewett has been the target of a closely guarded federal investigation for several months. A host of people have been called to testify before a federal grand jury in Raleigh. Gore says this removal is unrelated to that investigation. Although some of the allegations may overlap, this was a separate action. Gore says per state law, county coroner Greg White is serving as acting sheriff.

The affidavits in the book of evidence tell repeated stories of misconduct. Capt. Gene Caison grew up with Hewett. He details numerous instances of deputies on county time being used to do manual labor on Hewett's property or forced to work on Hewett's campaign signs and fundraisers. Caison also details highly erratic conduct by the sheriff.

Other deputies and a SBI agent detail numerous incidents where Hewett showed up to crime scenes intoxicated and interfered with investigations. In once case, Hewett allegedly arrived at a home where a man had barricaded himself inside. With the SWAT team on the scene, witnesses say an apparently intoxicated Hewett kicked down the front door and went into the home with his teenage son Justin.

There are also several pages devoted to county money and resources spent on Hewett's son Justin from the time Justin was a teenager, including Hewett assigning a vehicle belonging to the Sheriff's Office to his son, even after Justin Hewett had been hired as a police officer in Holden Beach. Witnesses also say Hewett requested his son be certified to use firearms and that Justin was seen at times carrying a badge and other BCSO equipment, even though he was too young to be a deputy.

Other allegations include:

  • Hewett sexually harassed several female employees.
  • Hewett used racial epithets.
  • Hewett ordered deputies to buy and deliver alcohol to him.
  • Hewett denied a request by a deputy to search a neighborhood for Billy Wade Russ, a missing man, who was later found in a neighbors yard, just feet from Russ's own property.
  • Hewett arrived drunk at the scene of a submerged car in October 2005 and that his son Justin removed the body of Kendrick Sparrow from the car against established investigative protocol. Investigators found that Sparrow had been shot before his car ran off the road.

A hearing on the removal petition is set for Monday at noon. At that point Hewett can argue to have it overturned. If his removal is upheld, it would fall upon the Brunswick County Democratic party to pick a new sheriff.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Every Body Needs To let

Every Body Needs To let Ronnie Rest.

Why?

He sure didn't let anyone else rest.

Myrtle Beach Newspaper

If you go to myrtlebeachonline.com you can hear several complete phone conversations. Not just bits and pieces...

ATTN SMARTNESS!!!

Just for the record.. I am a tax payer in Brunswick County, I have not been charged with a crime and I DO VOTE!! So my opinion does matter!! If you live in this county, your opinion does matter!!! He should be held to a HIGH standard. He was entrusted with OUR safety! He has let down himself, his family and this county!! HIS ACTIONS WERE WRONG!!!! When you put yourself in the public eye you have to be ready for consequences!!! GET REAL!!! The Good Ol Boy Club is being broken up! DEAL WITH IT!

Disturbing

I find this very disturbing that it has only taken 20 or so unhappy detectives, police officers or other county officials to do so much to one person that in my opinion has done a fine job. It really is a shame that one is known best for their wrongs and the many rights they have done are quickly forgotten. If he has even done any wrongs. The embezzlement charges are just plain silly, the obstruction to justice charge is even sillier. I am not saying that anyone should be allowed to do wrong but how many people have gotten out of speeding tickets, driving while intoxicated, or any other crime because they knew somebody? And do we have proof that Ronald made these deputies work for him on the clock? I hope that whomever is behind this whole mess pays a price for it. You only get by with doing wrong for so long. It eventually catches up to you. We are praying for you Ronald and Julie. God will get us all thru this.

Pay

The person behind this will pay and his name is Ronald Hewett.

Guest1022, You sure are

Guest1022, You sure are confident in that. Actually, tax payers will ultimately pay for this. All the time these 20 or so people have used on tax payers time to pull out this sad rabbit from their hat. I sure hope the legal system can clean up everyone's mess. I am sure there will be dirt on all accusers and they all will fall.

reply to submission by my opinion

Dear my opinion, you are so very right! It is sad that some people seem to want blood, when a person is down, they try to hurt him some more. What is the world coming to or at least some of the people in it? How many times have you seen a deputy or county car at a bank taking care of their personal business, when they are suppose to be on duty? I have witnessed this many times. Question. Should each one of the county deputies and other county employees be charged with embezzlement,..after all this is time(money)they are stealing from the county government/tax payers? These accusers may find themselves being accused of wrongful things and maybe charged also. I have always heard you should not say anything bad about anyone until you make sure your own door steps are clean. God help us all,for right now,I do not feel that I can trust any one of these deputies. Really Sad.

Hello........ Have you ever

Hello........ Have you ever heard of lunch breaks? Theres nothing wrong with them doing anything peronal if its on their lunch breaks...

i am one of the deputies you

i am one of the deputies you have seen at the bank in my county car. so basically what you are saying is that we cannot do anything for ourselves during our shift. does that mean we cannot eat either? do you understand how often and how long we work for you citizens of brunswick county. which includes working for no gratitude, which we can even turn around to say that we basically work to get complained on. no one appreciates us, they all try to find the tiniest thing we have done to wrong them and they jump on it. and now we are being associated with this. one man gets indicted and yall immediately jump on the whole department. think about this real quick, a lot of the regular deputies havent done anything towards this whole situation. they simply have not been here long enough. all we are trying to do is work, i wish yall knew how many of us just love our job. all we wanna do is go to work and answer our calls and try to accomplish some good. dont sit back and put us all on the chopping block because of one man. instead you could thank us for what we do for yall, because in the end, thats all most of us regular depties want. just some appreciation.

Ronald's fall

I have respect and appreciation for the deputies. They have been there when they knew that Ronnie (as some call him) made it hard for them to work. It was like he had two personalties. One for the publc and one for the men and women who worked for him. On the outside, everyone did not see him cursing and drinking, but the people who worked for him seen the other side. If someone seen the need to paid his little wrongs off, don't that make him guily. When he first was elected, I think he was a good shriff but he let his job go to his head. He had done wrong so long he thought he was right. If he loved this county so much, as he states, he would resign then everything could get back to normal.

Within Degree

Upon assertion of the craft, Sir, you are not Albertus Pike. Please cease in advertising, and let patience endure. - A Friend.

Ronald Hewett

This has sadden my heart to hear all the things the media has put on the TV and radio. This stuff should have never been showen on TV, internet etc. You have judged and sentenced him before he is even tried. The Media is what is wrong with our nation right now. They stir crap all the time and make more out of something than there is. I pray for Ronald and his family whom i have known for 37 yrs.or more. I agree the the person that said "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" that is the one that us usually the guiltest.

the same for all

Haven't you ever noticed that when a person is arrested for anything around here, specifically drugs, their name, age, and even address are published in the paper? That isn't any of our business but it is done every week. These people haven't been convicted of anything. His precious jail is full of people who are judged to be guilty before setting foot into a courtroom. It is a joy for the officers to inform a person that they have "no rights" in there. Don't you think that Mr. Hewett, as an elected official, should be exposed the same as any other person who allegedly breaks the law in this county? Is he better than those "guilty until proven innocent" people?

reply to "the same for all"

While I agree with some of your opinion, however, once you have broken the law you at that time "public information". Yes, Ronald Hewett should as a an elected public offical have the same treatment as the rest of us. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty as affored by our precious Constitution, and the reason the jails are occuiped are with prople who cannot for one reason or another afford the bail that has been imposed. They have rights they have free counsel appointed if they cannot afford one, three square meals a day, and a roof over their head, all at our expense. I am sure if a crime was perpatrated against you, you would want your perp. arrested. As for the media, if it was not for them alot of corruption would go undetected and not be exposed. And yes those who protect and serve the public are held at a higher standard and do police their own. And with having said that, I will close this blog.

Power of the People

Reinstate Ronald E. Hewett at www.ronaldehewett.com has had over 500 visitors and over 300 emails to reinstate him in 24hrs thats powerful.

HEWITT

COULD IT BE THAT THOSE WHO ARE BACKING RONNIE ARE AS CROOKED AS HE IS?

If so, you need to move!

If so, you need to move!

.com

Considering the population of Brunswick county as about 100,000 folks, 300 is not much. The internet is a wonderful thing and in some cases really LAME.

I'd bet...

most every name on the reinstate list is a Hewett.

true

you are probable right on that one

Powerfully Stupid!

Darn right it is powerful. Powerfully STUPID! You have 300. So what? That is a drop in the bucket to the number of taxpayers in this county. There was that many or more at the courthouse yesterday to see him go down!

I don't know...

Can you be Sheriff while you are serving time in jail? Chris, what you've got (if it's true) is 300 confused people who would vote that they believe in Santa Clause. It's an embarassment for your County. Maybe he could be Sheriff in DC under Marion Barry.

I voted to reinstate

JUST SO YOU KNOW NOT EVERY NAME ON THE REINSTATE LIST IS A HEWETT!!!!!!!!! I VOTED AND I AM NOT A HEWETT. UNLIKE YOU AND OTHER PEOPLE I BELIEVE IN THE MAN. I KNOW MORE PEOPLE WHO HAVE VOTED TO HAVE HIM REINSTATED. I AM NOT CONFUSED AND THE OTHERS WHO VOTED ARE NOT CONFUSED. SOUNDS TO ME LIKE YOU ARE THE ONE CONFUSED. AND AS FAR AS IT BEING AN EMBARASSMENT TO THE COUNTY IT'S PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO MAYNOT EVEN BE REGISTERED TO VOTE AND THINK YOU KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW. WELL IF YOU THINK IT WAS BAD WHEN RONALD WAS IN OFFICE YOU JUST WAIT YOU WILL BE PRAYING THAT HE DOES GET BACK IN. I WILL SAY IT ONLINE OR IN PERSON TO ANYONE WE NEED RONALD HEWETT AS THE SHERIFF OF BRUNSWICK COUNTY! AND I AGREE WITH THE COMMENT SOMEONE ELSE MADE ABOUT DEPUTIES BEING IN BANKS ON COUNTY TIME WELL I HAVE ALSO SEEN THEM TALKING WITH FEMALES OR MALES IN PARKING LOTS. THAT IS COUNTY MONEY AS WELL BUT I GUESS TO YOU THAT'S ALL WELL AND GOOD!! MONEY IS MONEY REGUARDLESS IF YOU ARE STEALING IT OR NOT DOING YOUR JOB TALKING TO THE OPPOSITE SEX, BANKING, SHOPPING, ETC. IT'S ALL THE SAME SO DON'T CALL PEOPLE CONFUSED WE ARE JUST SPEAKING OUR MINDS THE SAMEWAY YOU ARE. VOTE TO REINSTATE RONALD E. HEWETT FOR SHERIFF AT WWW.RONALDEHEWETT.COM THANK YOU!!!

Heeyyyy

You leave Santa out of this! ;)

"chris"

i just think an agree with the other post people are just seeing what it is about my opinion i think it is funny if they have the proof he embezzled this money why would people want him back in?

He didn't force those boys

He didn't force those boys to hand write their time on their timesheets. The Sheriff does not have anything to do with the payroll. THEY collected that money!

Not really

The visitors were looking to see what kind of crap was on that web page.

The people who need our

The people who need our compassion are the famalies who haven't had any justice for the loss of a loved one. Not Ronald Hewett.

$1300

That is all they say he embezzled. did these deputies conspire to get him out of office for something so petty. I hope the next sheriff FIRES the whole fun bunch clean the house.