WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Former Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett will remain in federal custody until a hearing next week, a judge ruled this morning.
Hewett made his initial appearance in federal court in Wilmington this morning to face a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. ATF agents arrested him yesterday after executing a search warrant at Hewett's Supply home and reportedly finding several firearms. Hewett is a felon after pleading guilty in 2008 to a federal obstruction of justice charge and state embezzlement charges earning him a 16-month sentence in federal prison.
Hewett arrived in court shackled at the hands and feet wearing a yellow golf shirt and camouflage shorts after spending the night in the Brunswick County Jail, which he oversaw during his 17 years as sheriff.
During the hearing Hewett repeatedly turned around to look at the reporters gathered in the courtroom, where no cameras are allowed. As he left court, Hewett looked toward his family and told them, "I love you."
Hewett is due back in court July 18 for a probable cause hearing and a detention hearing, because federal prosecutors say they want to keep him in custody. Hewett's attorney William Peregoy said it is a rare and difficult step by prosecutors to try to get a motion for detention in a case like this. Prosecutors say they plan to take Hewett's case before a grand jury to get an indictment.
The US Attorney's Office says if convicted of the gun charge Hewett faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.