Hearing date for decision surrounding Columbus Co. Sheriff not set yet

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — On Thursday WWAY learned the State Board of Elections is still unable to set a date to hear the evidence which led to the decision that Jody Greene did not meet state requirements to run for Columbus County Sheriff.

Two days of hearing evidence took place the first week of April. In the end, the Columbus County Board of Elections voted 3-2 that Jody Greene was not domiciled in Columbus County November 2017, a year before the election, nor on election night according to a summary decision of the elections board written by attorney Michael Crowell.

However, it has been two weeks since that decision and no meeting or hearing has been set by the state. State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon told WWAY’s Andrew James that is because the transcript has not been submitted from the early April hearing.

The decision has rocked the county with a red wave of sorts with people leaving the Democratic Party to register as Republicans.

Now the issue has to go before the State Board of Elections. It’s not an appeal of the hearing, but a standard process. The county board of elections cannot decide to disqualify Jody Greene or hold a new election according to Crowell in statements he made at the beginning of the April evidentiary hearing. The NCSBE must make the decision based on the county board’s findings and the evidence given during the Whiteville hearing.

“While many different facts — the use value assessment application, the North Myrtle Beach address on the RV title, the failure to register the RV in North Carolina, the large number of debit care expenditures in Lumberton — influence the board’s decision,” wrote Crowell to the state board. “The evidence the board finds particularly persuasive is that since 2012 Mr. Greene has made little effort to improve the 1049 property or construct a permanent structure there, as he claimed he intended.”

In March 2012, Greene submitted an application to include his listed Cerro Gordo address in the county land use value tax program according to the facts given at the hearing. That program provides a lower tax rate if it is mostly meant for farming use. Greene’s neighbor Donald Turbeville testified that he rents land from Greene to plant items like corn.

The evidence shows that a box was checked on Greene’s application form that he does not reside on the property.

Throughout the two-day hearing, Greene’s attorney, Boyd Worley, showed several tax, health and billing statements that all went to Greene at the listed address.

“Can you tell the board right now in front of them l, you are a resident of Columbus County? I am a resident of Columbus County,” said Greene asking a question from Worley before the county board April 4.

On the final day, the board visited Cerro Gordo to see Greene’s RV and camper meant for his wife’s dogs.

The evidence showed that Greene and his wife were living in the camper with the dogs in early 2017. The Airstream RV that was showed to elections board members was purchased that same year. The Buyer’s Order for the RV is dated November 21, 2017 according to evidence. The credit application for the RV is dated November 15 and has two different addresses for Greene and his wife according to what was presented to the board.

“Why was he busy building a beach him and not his ‘dream’ home,” said Hatcher’s attorney Oscar Blanks during the closing arguments of the hearing.

That same issue led to another finding by the board to vote against Greene.

“Instead, he purchased a beach house in North Myrtle Beach and devoted a great deal of time, effort and money to improving and restoring it,” wrote Crowell. “Mr. Greene’s testimony about the use and disposal of black water from the RV did not seem consistent with ongoing residence there, nor did the difference in electric usage from 2017 to 2018.”

Bonita Blakney, Brenda Ebron and Katherine Horne all voted that Greene was not domiciled at his Cerro Gordo home. That decision now sits in the hands of the NCSBE, but the ball is the court reporter’s court as a transcript of the testimony, discussion, and decision is needed before the State can set a date.

“We are working with our Board members to schedule a hearing as soon as possible,” Gannon said Thursday.

Categories: Columbus, Local, News

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