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ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) — Interim Bladen County Sheriff Earl Storms is under fire for letting several deputies go moments after he took office yesterday. Since talking with WWAY last night, Storms keeps changing his story.

Today, Storms says he asked the deputies to reapply for their positions and the deputies chose not to. But last night, he told us he needed more time to evaluate them before swearing them in.

This all stems from a swearing-in ceremony in yesterday. Storms was sworn in, as were some of the county’s deputies. Five of the office’s 10 deputies were not sworn in. One of them was Chief Deputy Phillip Little, who interim Sheriff Storms says retired. As for the other four, former Sheriff candidate Eric Bryan, Scott Pait, Steve Lesane and Debra Nelson, Storms gave one explanation about why they were not sworn in, but today it was a different story.

“It’s the Sheriff’s prerogative and state law to swear in deputies that he so desires,” Storms told WWAY last night. “And a lot of the men, I haven’t had a chance to go over their record. That will come down the line.”

Today, though, Storms said, “I haven’t fired anybody. They were all offered applications. They declined not to fill them out. I didn’t hire them. You can’t fire them if you didn’t hire them.”

Nelson emailed us this morning saying, “Your news release is a LIE. Earl Storms never talked to me this morning or my supervisor Scott Pait. Herman Dunn, Prentis Benston’s campaign manager/treasurer, came to us and told us we were not being sworn back in. Storms never talked to us.”

Storms admits he never talked to the five deputies before they found out at the last minute that they would not be sworn in.

County Commissioner Billy Ray Pait says the decision reeks of politics. He says commissioners will hold a special meeting Friday to see if they can legally terminiate Storms.

We were shown a letter today posted inside the Sheriff’s Department that tells dispatchers not to contact Sheriff Storms directly at any time. Instead they should contact Capt. Prentis Benston, the Democratic nominee for Sheriff in November, first or Dunn. If you connect the political dots, Storms threw his support behind Benston early in the race. Dunn is Benston’s campaign manager/treasurer.

Lesane, Pait and Nelson all supported Bryan’s campaign for sheriff, according to Bryan’s campaign website.


Comment on this Story

  • Specialist Sam

    That is too funny, I wouldn’t have caught that

  • Sam young-us army

    These sheriffs and deputies are no good, just plain rude, and believe they are the only authority. A deputy of his tried to block enterace to my residence(for a filming company that hadnt informed me of there intentions at all) til 11pm when I just getting off base for the weekend, when i made a deal about it the sherif contacted me personally and basically told me I was over reacting and I said it’s not your house being blocke and he hung up on me, mind you I’m a soldier aka a federal employee and I clearly identified my rank and possition and he blatenly disrespected me. Now I’ve deployed to two war zones and one hunanitary disaster I don’t think a film company can pay a sheriffs office to keep me from my house til 11pm. Now I’ve looked into the nc code of filming and they must inform you and give a resonable route but the sheriff didn’t seem to worry about law and worried about getting paid.

  • Guest

    In actuality, in the blog that you were referencing, the blogger managed to convince you that he/she is uneducated. It only appears so to the uneducated eye. The blogger knows grammatical rules and has gone to great pains to deliberately create a persona that is exactly what you mistook him/her for after your reading of the post. It is you, I am afraid, that is not well versed enough in the rules of English grammar and writing to recognize this post for what it is – a post intended to mislead!

  • Guest

    ward is a jerk he was a jerk when he use to come to our school stay there for 5 minutes then give us some lame shoe strings i tell you what he needs to do is go sit his old behind down a give up he lost

  • Guest

    This person seriously wants to sound even less intelligent by talking about the Magna carta? Too funny apparently the original author is unawear he or she lives in the good old USA!

  • Guest

    Wow I’m sure he appreciates the support of the ignorant people that’s the only way he is going to win if you all ban together in your ignorance and vote for him. The only reason you are voting for him is because he’s black I garuntee you didn’t do any research to see who was best suited for the job!

  • nctrooper10722001

    Sure is nice weather huh??

  • Guest

    Another person making the Benston crowd look ignorant and uneducated. He should talk to you all about using correct grammar and spelling and not write like you talk and act. It makes him look very bad and just helps Mr. Ward even more. Vote for Mr. Ward for Sheriff and you will not have to put up with this nonsense.

  • Guest

    You have the right to vote, but you write sentences, and the document of which you speak was the Magna Carta, which has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with your right to vote, actually.

    Look it up.

    While the U.S. Constitution was loosely based on the British document, it actually did not allow or permit for people of color or women to vote, or any male that wasn’t a white landowner who wasn’t a member or Parliament. So, technically speaking, your use of the Magna Carta, while admirable, makes you look like a fool.

  • Guest

    Oh, yes, and “influctuate” is not an English word. I believe that you mean to use the word insinuate.

  • Guest

    I commented before on how you could tell someone’s race by the way they write and spell and this is a classic example. Do not vote for Mr. Benston or Mr. Ward due to their skin color. You arleady see what kind of turmoil Mr. Benston causes and he is not even been elected yet. Mr. Ward is highly educated and motivated when it comes to Law Enforcement from the street to the classroom. Ask Mr. Benston about his experiences and education and years of service. The past is the past. Vote with current issues and topics in the forefront and the future of Bladen County being at stake. Mr. Benston is committing poitical suicide and if people like “Do ya thang” keep blogging, it will increase Mr. Ward’s chances even greater. Do not show your ignorance; let someone else type out what you want to say. Mr. Ward is sitting back with an ear to ear grin just watching the Benston campaign slowly self-destruct. Vote for Mr. Ward for a better Bladen County without all these political ties, money, and influences.

  • daver

    ” am also conclusive when I right my sentences and voting is my right –you heard of the Magna Carter?? ”

    When I write my sentences……..no right. And it is the Magna Carta, which stems from England…..

  • Guest

    The author of the orginial threat presented her thoughts in a bit of a less than tactful manner. I, too, am African American and consider your comment to be offensive and less than tolerable. To assume that an individual voted for Prentis Benston also voted in favor of “OUR” president, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, is a bit racist. You may not have cast your vote in favor of him, but please be mindful that he has rule over you!

    I have audio and written communication skills that surpass the original threat’s author; yet I unhesitantly side with the individual in the respect that the Sheriff’s Election is turning into a racial circus to say the least. It is my belief the term “yall” in one of the previous posting was referring to supporters of Eric Bryan and/or Billy Ward.

    Why is no one outraged that Nikki Dennis holds a position that compensates her more than $80,000/year while her highest education credential is a high school diploma? Why is no one outraged that there is a series of murders in our county have been deemed “unsolved mysteries”?

    For years, race has divided the citizens of Bladen County and this election has allowed harbored feelings to come forward. Many people are angered because the “good ole boy” dynasty in beginning to crumble.

    An individual has the right to express their opinion reguardless of their intellectual ability. My educational credentials include a Bachelor, Master and Doctorate Degrees; each in education. Obtaining such credentials doesn’t make me superior to anyone nor should the color of a person’s skin. It sickens me that when a African-American votes for or sides with another African-American people make the assumption the decision was based on race. Yet when we look at the staggering number of African Americans in leadership positions in Bladen County we are content. Neither an African-American nor Hispanic-American has served in the following capacities in our county: (1) Sheriff; (2) Superintendent ; (3) Presidnet of Bladen Community College; and(4) Mayor of Elizabethtown. Even Stevie Wonder is coherent enough to see this is a major issue.

    A change is overdue in Bladen County! The candidate that I favor is Prentis Benston not because he is African-American but because I have deemed him to be a man of high caliber and moral fiber; in addition to the fact that I am allowed to vote for any candidate that I please. Best of luck to you Billy Ward supporters because the supporters of Prentis Benston will work harder than ever to ensure the right candidate is named Sheriff.

    Sorry for the usage of proper English; however, I wanted to amplify the message that there are those of us out there that are highly articulate.

  • Guest


  • Guest

    I absolutely agree, there is an absolute show of bias from the way this has been reported by WWAY 3, Which one of you guys are getting kick backs for reporting the way that you have been, definitely not professional. Well I had never watched your news before the “Big Bad Mean interim Bladen County Sheriff” was posted by a friend on facebook. You guys are adding fuel to the fire with your biased reporting, for this you should be ashamed. You guys really don’t have a clue and it shows, lol.

  • rolling eyes

    Magna carta? You are aware this is America? We have the United Stated of America Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Magna Carta was written in 1215, long before the founding of America. I’m curious as to what rights an English(as in Great Britian) document give YOU. You can look up information on the internet and educate yourself.

  • Guest

    Go to the meeting, I hate to inform you but once the sheriff is swore in, you can not fire him. He is yours for 5 months, learn to live with it, there are many times a new sheriff comes in and fires folks, why is this one news.

  • Guest1234

    whole heartedly. Obama didn’t “deserve” to be president. Not sure anyone “deserves” that job. That makes it seem like a right, not an opportunity to serve your fellow citizens. Which he sucks at doing by the way.

  • 44mag

    There’s no doubt in my mind you voted for Obama, just like you’re pulling for Prentis. It’s a shame that you voted just because the candidate has the same skin color as you. It’s also a shame that some people that don’t have the mental fortitude to put together a proper sentence get to vote.

  • Guestwordup

    Keep Hatin’ I am gonna be at the meeting Friday- LOUD AND PROUD- speaking my mind. It is the Sherrif right to fire whoever he wants–yall hatin cause my man won and yours didnt.

  • Double A

    It looks as if the County Commissioners don’t have any idea of how to govern. On Tuesday morning they were all saying that Mr. Storms was the best man for the job. Less than 24hrs after the swearing in ceremony they are having buyer’s remorse. Why, because the Chairman’s nephew and a few other political aligned individuals did not fit Mr. Storms restructuring plans. The man makes one decision that goes against what some misguided commissioners wanted and now they are ready to throw him under the bus. When considering Mr. Storms in the first place did the commissioners truly want an individual who was a strong independent leader or a puppet to only do what the commissioners wanted? Who in their right mind could imagine that this department after such a contested and heated primary and runoff election could function effectively without personnel changes? Politics is cruel, mean, and sometimes dirty. These commissioners made backroom deals to appoint Mr. Storms Sheriff. They played politics and now they are crying about “Politics”. People please!

    It is rumored that former candidate and Sheriff Deputy Lt. Bryan reported to the Sheriff’s office after he lost the runoff and threw his uniforms in the floor. On the night of the runoff, Deputy Lesane appeared from the courthouse so angry as if he wanted to attack someone. Some officers that supported Lt. Bryan were banging cars, swearing, and acting extremely unprofessional. Individuals, including some of the one’s that were not sworn on Tuesday were walking around the sheriff’s department being openly critical of Capt. Benston, the people’s choice and democractic nominee for Sheriff. Additionally, there has been numerous rumors of individuals saying and doing things in this election cycle that are inappropriate and very un-Christian. All of these very mature individuals knew that as a “Sheriff’s Deputy”, if you play in politics you can live by it or die by it. Now we have commissioners talking about firing the man they just hired because he supported Capt. Benston; while on the other hand they wanted to hire Chief Deputy Little when he openly campaigned and supported Lt. Bryan. This whole thing stinks and the commissioners are to blame because they were too chicken to do the right thing in the first place.

    Why all this anger? People ought to ask the hard and tough questions and demand answers. I think the Interim Sheriff (5mos) did what he thought was best. It would be almost impossible for him to do an effective job without shaking things up. Too, had any other person been in his position they would have had to make similar choices. Did the commissioners expect Mr. Benston to work in a department for the remainder of the year under someone who meant him “no good” and amongst individuals bitter and constantly out to destroy him? Second, I think the Sheriff was right to ask for an audit of the agencies property. However, I think a further audit needs to be conducted of the agencies fiances, especially grant funds. I don’t know how true it is but I hear that some deputies including the former Chief Deputy and Sheriff was paid in excess of $20,000 a year in overtime. Any time a salaried employee makes this kind of $$$ in overtime, something is wrong! An impartial audit and investigation clears the air and ensures that the citizens tax dollars are spent appropriately. At present the whole overtime issue smells like “double dipping.” Lastly, this whole turn of events is not a negative reflection of the Interim Sheriff but of the Commissioners. Citizens do need to wakeup. We need to really look at why we pick the leaders we have. Do we vote for individuals because they are the best qualified, they will do the best job, they are more attractive than the opponent, or they have the most money? At present our county has people in governmental positions locally through the state house with little education and questionable experiences. With these dynamics it is not a mystery why we get the results from government that we do.

  • Guest99x

    Written above:

    “you heard of the Magna Carter?? Now who is incoherent?”

    I forget, isn’t Magna Carter the Revolutionary War era matriarch of the former president’s family???

  • Citizen thinker

    Keep up the good work WWAY. You broke the RC Soles story AND this one. Quality reporting. The people would be ill-informed if not for solid journalism like this.

    Guestwordup is a parody, written by someone who is hiding behind a persona to exploit prejudice. It is written by someone who knows the rules of English, but hopes the deliberate misuse of grammar will drive folks to the opposite of what he/she appears to espouse. It’s a Red herring, folks. Nice try, but ham-handed and transparent

  • Guestwordup

    How you know my skin color and YES I DID vote for OBAMA. It was the first time we had a candidate who deserved to be president. I am also conclusive when I right my sentences and voting is my right –you heard of the Magna Carter?? Now who is incoherent?

  • I can see you attempted to clean up your comment some, but you may still consider having someone who actually has an education and some knowledge of current events check your comments before you post. It’s not that you can’t type, you cant speak, spell or communicate your point with any sort of intelligence. If you don’t want to come off a stupid, t. If you will go back and read what I posted you will not see one negative comment made about Prentis. I’m curious, when you say “yall” who would you be referring too? If you think Prentis is calling the shots, once again you are mistaken. He is still employed and awaiting the results of the run off…but he is far from calling the shots. Let me try to put this so you can understand it…Dude give it up cuz ya cant hide it, you are put’n your ignorance out there fer the hole world to see.

  • Guest2020

    How is their reporting biased when they are taking the words straight from the horse’s mouth? Storms is the one who can’t keep his stories straight. People who tell the truth tell the same story and have nothing to keep straight because they aren’t lying. Besides this TV station is not the only station to report this story.

  • Guest202

    And the American people deserve better.

  • guesty

    All the little ships being herded into a harbor.

  • Guestwordup

    I said my peace and now here you are trying to influctuate that I dont know how to type. Like I said, Haters gonna Hate. I dont appreciate being called stupid. this is just like how I knew it would go down, Prentis calling the shots and everybody hatin on him. THe voters have spoke and I dont live in no cave. Just cause yall didnt get yall’s way – hear you go attacking me. Just back up and watch the man do his work.

  • Guest

    This is the norm in an election when a new sheriff takes office. Bladen County has had the same sheriff for so long, people have forgotten what it is like when a new one comes into office. Not only is it the norm, it is legal.

    Bladen County has been long overdue for a ‘changing of the guard’ at the Sheriff’s Department.

    Political dots are easy to connect so, what are the dots leading to the extreme bias of the reporting by WWAY 3, like reporting that deputies were fired when in fact they were not sworn back in until records were reviewed (like any conscientious sheriff would do in swearing in officers he has no familiarity with), the obvious dislike for Storms is dripping from your story, so who was your pick….evidently not Benston or Storms. Journalism?? No, political muck-raking, yes….by someone who does not even live in Bladen County and therefore has no idea of the nuances of this situation. Talk about one-sided reporting.

  • itsashame

    I can’t believe someone who can form correct sentences has the capacity to understand what a candidate stands for when they vote for them.


    Because they are the ones who are so easily influenced by these politicians. Herding them like little ship who know not what is happening.

  • Guesttyp

    He hired 3 of them I believe- how can he not be familiar with them?

  • Guest

    Finally, someone else called out the reporters. Journalism is supposed to be an unbiased reporting of facts regarding a subject that is relevant or of interest. These are some of the most biased and unsubstantiated articles I have ever read.
    Times are tough all over but editors and proofreaders are worth their weight in gold.

  • Guest

    Looks like a leap back in time for Blsden county, but what did they expect. It was this way in the 80’s – 90’s with this guy. Just reminds me of Andy leaving Goober in charge but luckly for Mayberry it was only for a day.

  • Guestwordup

    Why everybody hatin’ on Prentis? He just doing his thing. Y’all just mad cause he won the election and he already calling the shots. He shaking things up and when he sheriff it gone be the same way. Yall know he done won the election one time and now yall cheating so he got to win in NOvember too but we gonna show yall whats up then too. Haters gonna hate no matter what. Do ya thing and show em how we run stuff.

  • Guest of the Queen

    When a new sheriff comes in do all the deps have to be resworn? I mean they are already on the force. Do they come in the next day and suddenly are no longer employed? If Storms was appointed as interim, he should have just come in and played out his time, not rearrange the department. Commissioners, hike up your shorts and fix this now.

  • Guest2020

    If Mr. Little retired, why was he as surprised as the others at the ceremony yesterday?

    Mr. Storms, which lie, I mean story, is it? A person who tells the truth tends to tell the same story no matter what.

    And it took so much class to wait until right before the ceremony to tell the people that they weren’t going to be included.

  • Eveyone is entitled to their opinion…and here is mine! If you choose to write your opinion/comment in a forum showing your support for Prentis then for God’s sake show some sort of intelligence! Your comment reeks of ignorance and just adds more stupidity to this whole mess. If you cant speak or type out a simple sentence then it’s best to stay in the cave from which you came out of. Maybe you could get someone to proof read and correct your comments before you actually post them.

    Bladen County has enough issues without having the leaders (elected or appointed)involved in this kind of turmoil. I realize that things very seldom run smooth when you throw politics into the mix but this has gone on long enough. The damage that is being done to our county is almost to the point of being beyond repair. Law enforcement will always have the stigma of being corrupt which is not always the case. This situation is not helping that image. These officials need to look within themselves and remember what is truly ethical and will benefit our citizens and the county as a whole, which means the personal feelings and party affiliations need to be put aside.

  • Guest

    You people must not remember, because Steve has run unopposed for so many years, this is the way it goes when a new sheriff is sworn in. His opponent and opponent’s backers are usually not sworn in, which is the case in most political affairs. Vote for who you want to vote for but know if you show your hand the toes you step on today may be connected to the a** you’ll have to kiss tomorrow.

    Does anyone remember Horace Williams????? He was taught this lesson by Steve Bunn years ago.

  • WardSupporter

    Firstly, our county commissioners should have known better than to bring Earl Storms back. Secondly, Phillip Little has been acting Bladen County Sheriff when the former Sheriff was out of town. So the “common sense” thing to have done was to have elected Phillip Little Sheriff for the next five months. It is obvious there was a motive to elect Storms. I am disappointed that several of our commissioners fell for Miss Blank’s trap and I am sure they are now. Storms is serving as clean-up man for Sheriff hopeful Benston.

    Earl Storms stated he wanted to get to know the Deputies was the reason he requested them to fill out job applications. If memory serves me right three of the five he let go worked for him when he was Sheriff before.

    The good news is our younger generation is not playing the good ole boy politics.
    The dirty politics truths are coming out like never before and change is on the way.
    They are many unanswered questions in this whole mess. With the press now involved and citizens in an uproar folks will either come clean or be voted out of office or better yet citizens will do their homework before they cast their votes.

    Questions that need to be answered:

    1. who financed Rodney Hester’s campaign?
    2. who financed Prentis Benston’s campaign?
    3. what was the purpose of bringing Earl Storms back?
    4. why did Storms not hire those who supported Eric Bryan?
    5. is Storms a Blank’s yes man?
    6. why did both Bryan and Benston refuse to debate the issues?
    7. what is Benston’s education level?
    8. do we need a Sheriff who is not affiliated with current mess?

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