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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.

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 known 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.

“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) progress. 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.

“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 neighbor’s 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.

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465 Comments on "Sheriff Hewett indicted with embezzlement, obstruction"


Judy
2015 years 9 months ago

I am a resident of New Hanover County.
when I first heard the news of Officer Jones, I KNEW beyond the shadow of a doubt that she DID NOT commit suicide.
I think it is a travesty that they would want
to push everything under the rug, and label it “suicide”.
I didn’t not know her personally, but I knew this woman had too much good going on with her life, with her personal and professional life.
And I knew there was no way she killed herself.
I can only hope now, someone will re-open the case, and try and find her killer or killers.
She deserved so much better than to be forgotten!
In a way, I am glad Sheriff Hewett is on the way out.
Now maybe cases with be solved with some truth, and not bulls*it!

Sylvia M.Auten
2015 years 9 months ago

WOW Lot of stuff in these comments.

Since the scriptures are being brought into this, it is for sure, there are more than one
that could apply, and we should not use scriptures to hit someone over the head, but –
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand
Proove all things
Don’t judge

All of these instructions are for our spiritual benefit first and foremost, so that when our spirit body leaves this earthly one
it will be cleansed, however, earthly actions do bring consequences. Anytime, folks go together with their property taxes and hire a fireman, policeman, sheriff, humane society officer, or judge, they are responsible to the people because the people are respectfully their boss. No one should become an entity unto themselves. For sure, no one hired by the people should use ANY kind of habit forming substance, and should be of good morals, factual, honest, and above board in all of their dealings in public and private life. When it comes to murder, it is surely the mother who bears the child, and no one has a right to take its life, whether 80, 48, 18, 8 mo or just getting started. Because we have become very loose in the regard for life, it is reflected in everyday living. We loose more in deaths on the highway (3500 a MONTH) and in violence (18,000 a year) than we do on the battlefield, (4,000 over five years) and that is their job, but going from point A to point B should NOT be cause for death nor should one take another’s life over anything else. We should be about the business of saving lives so that we may all have our turn on earth for as long as God determines, not man or woman. Wake up America.

Longtimeofknowinghim
2015 years 9 months ago

I have known Ron Hewett all my life. My mom and his sister was close friends when we were all younger. Ron Hewett has ALWAYS been the type to sneak around and do things he shouldnt be doing in the first place. ABOUT DANG TIME, someone catches up with his sneaky ways and catch him in his acts. I also have spoke to one of his nieces that was serving time in his jail. She sure was NOT giving out good words for her uncle. Just maybe if the press news and investigators could maybe pull these records of his niece being in his county jail and question her about him and what he has done to the community of Brunswick County. The niece was serving time in the year of 2000. If i am NOT mistaken. I DO KNOW, it was in between the year of 1999 and 2001. But, in my opinion, I am glad to see the BIG HEAD CROCK OUT. We tryied to warn him when he was younger. sooner than later, YOU WILL BE CAUGHT..It is about time someone caught him at his worst.

Sick and Tired
2015 years 9 months ago

For crying out loud, give it a rest now. You and your kind have been trying to find any way you can to have our Sheriff removed so that your own personal intrest may be served. Unless there is proof, valid, undisputed, reliable proof that our Sheriff should not be in office, “SHUT YOUR YAPPER”. I am sick and tired of all the hate talk against our Sheriff and it is obvious to me that there is not enough drama in our lives already. I find that I am more interested in who is going to be running the Country and less concerned about who had the support of the Sheriff’s Office during a commisioners meeting. Please, get over it.

Guest990
2015 years 9 months ago

I think of her all the time and I too am angry this was allowed to be covered up.I know she was murdered. I want to know why and who was protected . Maybe Ronnie will roll over and tell all. I fear he will not live long enough to tell, I pray he does not make a fatal decision .But I do know Danina was murdered.

 

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