COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Who is the sheriff of Columbus County? It’s been the million dollar question for the last few months.
Jody Greene was sworn in back in December, but the race was never certified by the State Board of Elections. Lewis Hatcher, the former sheriff sued, but Thursday night the two sides came to an agreement.
They presented their settlement to a judge Friday.
After a lengthy battle about who is the rightful sheriff, in a statement Thursday night Lewis Hatcher agreed to dismiss his lawsuit asking to be reinstated, if Sheriff Jody Greene agreed to step aside until the election is certified.
So now, a new person will serve the county for the time being. In a brief court hearing Friday, both sides told the judge that they are satisfied with the confidential settlement last night.
There are very few details about the settlement, but both attorneys say Captain Jason Soles will assume responsibilities as sheriff.
Hatcher’s attorney says they have already filed a motion to dismiss this case. In the meantime, Greene’s attorney says Greene is still the sheriff of Columbus County, but Soles is assuming the day to day responsibilities of the job.
The judge says he thought mediation was the best option.
“I can tell you that everything that’s been filed with the court and exchanged between the parties, I have been reviewing since the 18 of January,” Judge A. Graham Shirley said. “I would comment that both sides probably fared better in this settlement than they would have, had I been forced to rule.”
Judge Shirley says he has not seen the whole settlement, but he thinks both sides should be satisfied.
Hatcher’s attorney says Capt. Soles assumes responsibilities on Wednesday.
WWAY still had a lot of unanswered questions. Will Greene still draw a paycheck? Does a civil agreement give these parties the right to name who is in charge at the sheriff’s office?
The Attorney General’s Office referred us back to the county attorney. WWAY reached out to the county manager and county attorney and were told they left early for the weekend.
The State Board of Elections will not take up this case until they’re done with the 9th Congressional District case.