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Sheriff Hewett indicted with embezzlement, obstruction

READ MORE: Sheriff Hewett indicted with embezzlement, obstruction
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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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Casting Stones

I don't think we have to be without sin in order to judge the ones we place in office. If they fail us we have the right to replace them. What comes around goes around.

cast the first stone......

Nobody thinks they are without sin. We are not the Sheriff. People expect more of someone in that position. With that being said,someone hand me a rock!

PUHewett be movin on

Well that's exactly right. Move on. See ya PUHewett. Oh one more thing. Hand me the biggest stone you can cause I'm a gonna heave it just because I'm a sinner and sinners like sinning. What's one more huh? We are all forgiven. Sin sin sinnin sinners. Exodus 21:22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. Leviticus 24:17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. 18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. 19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; 20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. 21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Deuteronomy 19:16 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; 17 Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; 18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. 20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. 21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. GOD ROCKS!

law

If god forgave everyone no matter what they did AND we lived by gods laws then we would not need prisons would we? BUT we do not live by gods laws we live and are JUDGED by human laws and the sheriff allegedly has broken a few. god has nothing to do with this.

You need to take a closer

You need to take a closer look at God's judgement and His Word, like maybe the cross! Just stop and spend about five mins. thinking about it. It really cheeses me off to see people drag God into things when they have no understanding. Your great at quoting the law but where is your grace?

I have never had any

I have never had any personal or professional dealings with Sheriff Hewett. However, I have had professional dealings with some of the deputies whose names are listed in the affidavits. What I went through with them wasn't any different than what they went through with the Sheriff. I believe it's time to look at the whole department.

Maybe you should not have

Maybe you should not have done someting or move out of the county. Its called police work the GOOD OL BOYS are going

Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Sheriff Hewett had a high stress job, that is undeniable. Its a job where statistically, alcoholism and drug addiction are likely. I believe that his behavior is an example of the destruction caused by alcoholism and drug abuse. While I agree, it's right to remove him as Sheriff, he is not capable of doing the job right now, he needs medical help. He should be forced into rehab to address his addictions, protect himself, his family, and the entire county sheriff's department.

ROLLIN

THE ROCK GET YOUR STICK OUT

Rehab? What?

Mr. Hewett should have to go to jail for breaking the law like every other citizen in your county. Did he and their system give their inmates the opportunity to sober up in rehab. I don't think so. BC jail is notorious for its unethical practices under the watchful drunken eye of the so called sheriff. Why should he be treated any different? He should be punished more, he took an oath, and his job is no more stressful than any other job in this country. For the love of God get some sense.

immobilizing an organization

Some leaders have the uncanny, God-given ability to choose the right path at those critical intersections every organization will face. These are directional issues, and they are capable of immobilizing an organization. But a leader with directional skill is able to sort the options, carefully assess the values of the organization - then, with remarkable wisdom, point that organization in the right direction. Wrong calls at these key intersections can wreck organizations.

The man that thought he was god

I went to school with Ronald and honestly he was one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. I knew him also as an adult and he still had the same personality up until his second term in office. I believe the power he had as sheriff overwhelmed him and began to believe he was invincible. The wonderful citizens of Brunswick county thought he was greater than he actually was but he is only a man. I have acquaintances at the sheriff's department and we all personally saw a change in him that actually knew him before he was sheriff. I was told of a meeting he had with his deputies when he told them that he was their god and if they didn't do as he said they would lose their jobs. I have seen many great officers fired just because they didn't do as Ronald wanted. I believe they all wanted to come forward but it's hard to bring such a powerful person down when he threatens your career you have worked for and when he has such close ties with people of power such as Rex Gore and Edwards unless you all work together and I think the deputies finally realized it was time. I feel for Ronald but you don't continue to do wrong and it not catch up with you eventually. Brunswick County Sheriff's Department, stay strong. Your true God is not Ronald and I think he finally realizes that.

a good name is . . .

I grew up in Brunswick County and knew Ronald in school. (His mother was one of the best teachers I ever had.) He has done so many good things for our beloved county. This has just been heartbreaking for me. Just one example of good manners that he brought back was during funerals - the police would stop traffic at intersections and hold their hats over their hearts until all the family passed. It is examples like this of good southern manners/etiquette/respect that has endeared him to the people of Brunswick County. I know in my heart Ronald believes that a good name is worth more than silver or gold, so I just do not understand what has gone so very wrong.

Contingency 14

Contingency 14; I AGREE with your post 10000% I couldn't have said it better myself! I understand people are humans and make mistakes but not over and over again and again and especially all the ones Hewett did! All you idiot supporters what more proof do you need to know he is GUILTY and should go down and yet you still support???? There are tapes, videos, testimony for everything! Thank goodness all these deputies stood up for us great Brunswick County Citizens!!!!!!!!! Thank you all so much! It's been a LONG time coming!

I am a supporter and not an

I am a supporter and not an idiot. I think you need to point your finger back at YOU.The deputies that have accused him are what? supporting our citizens? NO I beg your pardon. Many times they do not obey the laws, act like law officers. I pray for you and Ronald and his wonderful family. It is wonderful that we live in America ...land of the free...even free to tell false tales about our fellow men and women. We should LOVE one another and if our brother or sister falls,help them up, love them and let's have a better county, country and world. Ronald has done many GOOD things for us. Have you forgotten? We ALL make mistakes, some more than others, but if God forgives, why can't we?

I am sick and tired

I am so tired of hearing all of the faithful good ol boys! When you put yourself in the public eye you set yourself to a higher standard! You are supposed to be an example. It's hard, however, he knew he had to lead his life in a certain manner. It's time for a change in Brunswick county and maybe the next sheriff will remember that there is a north end to the county.

Hewett

Ubi fumus, ibi ignis.

you got that right. Ubi

you got that right. Ubi dubium ibi libertas

Ronald

I lived in Brunswick County when Ronald was first elected and I was considereding moving back. I was under the impression he was squeaky clean. Guess not. Brunswick County I understand is looking at 2 or 3 lawsuits directed at the school system. I am sure lawyers are lining up to go after the county in civil court because of the past actions of the sheriffs department. One can just guess what that will cost the tax payers.

To say This man is only

To say This man is only human and made a mistake is a cop out. Make a mistake once fine, but not over and over. The most dangerous place in Brunswick County between Hewett and a news camera.

Sounds like you my have been

Sounds like you my have been around when the camera came out

I remember

This isn't the first time power has corrupted a good person. I remember the Ronald Hewett who was the youngest elected sheriff in the state of NC, the DARE officer who ran on the platform of cleaning up a corrupt Sheriff's office, the father who was so proud of his kids. I remember the Ronald Hewett who admitted to his own mistakes and short comings - the Ronald who was so well thought of, not just in Brunswick County, but across the state of NC. I am disappointed in him - and I think a lot of other people are too. But I'm not going to cast any stones at him or his family - because I know I'm not perfect and I do remember all the good he has done for Brunswick County. My prayers are with you and your family Ronald - I know this is a difficult time for you. I pray you can find the strength to find the good man that I know is still there.

Seems to me judging by the

Seems to me judging by the spelling and the phrasing of most of the comments, that the majority of people responding against him were probably arrested by him. My heart goes out to his family.

JUDGING BY

I HAVE TO AGREE W/YOU 100%! MY HEART GOES OUT TO HIM AND HIS FAMILY ALSO. HIS SON IS A FRIEND OF MINE AND I KNOW WHAT HE IS GOING THROUGH HAS TO BE TERRIBLE. MY PRAYERS ARE W/THEM.

Sheriff

while I respect LEO's they should be held accountable for their actions, just as non LEO's are, if in fact the Sheriff is guilty of things said, he should be punished, but it sounds to me that he may be mentally ill, and I hope he gets the help that he needs, sheriff or not...he is innocent until proven guilty

Myself I have heard alot of

Myself I have heard alot of stuff about Mr. Hewett, I dont know if they are true but like evryone else I have my opinon that he should have been gone years ago. Its just not the Sheriff Department that needs to be looked in But also the Leland Police Department. I was wronged on a crime that happened to myself. I belive that there needs to be someone hired for there eductaion and their Exper. Not because who they know.

THANK GOD!!!

This has been along time coming for him but not only do the Brunswick county Sheriff Office needs to be investigated completly but also the Leland Police Department.(Detectives) We as communities deserve to be protected, I hope there is something better to come for ALL of Brunswick County...

Hey MIMI; Leland already got

Hey MIMI; Leland already got rid of their problem. He is now part of the BCSD problem. Before you throw stones think about what you did to be accused!

FIRED !

If these charges don't hold up Monday and Ronald is allowed to continue to be sheriff I wonder how many will be FIRED Tuesday ?

I bet Keith Smith would be

I bet Keith Smith would be fired today if Ronald had any power. Wonder how he got to church this morning without driving his Expedition? I have seen it parked outside the little church at Hickman's Crossroads many times. I wonder how many people have a work vehicle that they can drive any place they want to and the company foot the entire bill? If I were Gene Allen Caison and Kevin Holden, I would be watching my back and my front.