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Hewett pleads guilty to federal charge of obstructing justice

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Former Brunswick County Sheriff Ron Hewett pleaded guilty in Raleigh Monday to a federal charge of obstructing justice. He now faces sentencing Sept. 8. The maximum sentence for the charge is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. Hewett is accused of trying to impede a federal grand jury investigation of him and his department that began in December 2006. “The investigation and prosecution of public corruption is one of our office’s highest priorities," United States Attorney George Holding said. "Ronald Hewett unlawfully obstructed a grand jury investigation into corruption of his office, and he’s being held accountable for it in federal court. He’s being held accountable for those acts of corruption by the charges the state authorities have brought.” Hewett resigned April 15 from the post he had held for 14 years. He had been suspended March 27, based on affidavits from current and former deputies accusing him of misconduct in office. Four days later, he was indicted on state charges of embezzlement and obstructing justice. The actions in state court came amid the ongoing federal grand jury investigation. “Ron Hewett pleading guilty today proves no one is above the law," said Nathan Gray, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI. "I would like to thank the courageous Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputies who risked their jobs to come forward and provide vital information to investigators. I would also like to thank the State Bureau of Investigation for its pivotal role in this investigation. The FBI relies on strong partnerships with other agencies to make sure justice is served no matter who stands accused." John Ingram, a former department employee who was among those who signed affidavits, was hired in April as the department's chief deputy, then was chosen last month by the county's Democratic Party to serve as sheriff for the rest of Hewett's term, which ends in 2010. Check back for more on this developing story.

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