Hash resigns his planning board post

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Scott Jenkins

Salisbury Post

EAST SPENCER — Dr. Ronald Hash, a former alderman who pleaded guilty in 2006 to failing to report income to the Internal Revenue Service, has resigned from the town’s planning board.

The Board of Aldermen accepted Hash’s resignation Monday night.

Reached at home after the meeting, Hash said he was resigning to devote more time to his ministries, Love Christian Church and Love Center Veterans Home, and to let the town continue healing.

“I want to do what’s best for the citizens and the town does not need any more negative conflicts,” Hash said. “For the betterment of the town, it was best for me to go ahead and resign.”

Hash had faced multiple felony charges in a financial scandal that authorities said cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and sent two other town officials and a businessman to prison.

Hash pleaded guilty in June to a single count of making false statements to the Internal Revenue Service for not reporting $5,300 as income. He received three years probation and was ordered to pay a share of $70,232 in restitution in $50 monthly installments.

As part of his plea agreement, he had to resign from the Board of Aldermen, but town leaders subsequently appointed him to the Planning Board.

In exchange for Hash’s plea, the U.S. Attorney’s office dismissed five counts related to defrauding taxpayers and using his position as an alderman to influence votes in the company’s favor.

Also charged in the scandal were Kenneth Fox, a former East Spencer mayor, and Chris Sharpe, a former alderman, along with Winston-Salem businessman Rick Slade, who authorities said funneled money to the town officials in return for lucrative government contracts.

Fox and Slade have begun serving prison sentences. The court granted Sharpe an extension of time to report to prison so he could continue to pursue disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Hash entered into his plea deal in June. The Board of Aldermen appointed him to the planning board in September.

East Spencer resident Theodore Gladden has criticized that move at several board meetings since, and he raised the issue of Hash’s resignation during public comment Monday.

Responding to Gladden, several board members said they knew of Hash’s resignation letter, dated Feb. 2, while others said they hadn’t seen it. Mayor Erma Jefferies said after the meeting that she had received the letter and had been notifying board members individually.

Gladden, who had obtained a copy of the resignation letter, said he was glad to see Hash step down, since he believed the former alderman’s continued presence put the town in a bad light.

“I don’t have any malice against the man,” Gladden said. “It just didn’t benefit the town at all.”

Contact Scott Jenkins at 704-797-4248 or sjenkins@salisburypost.com.