White sheriff who disparaged Black employees resigns – again

Published 11:25 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2023

WHITEVILLE (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff resigned a second time Wednesday in the aftermath of a leaked audio recording in which he called Black employees by derogatory names and said they should be fired, his attorney announced.

Jody Greene was reelected to a second term as Columbus County’s sheriff last fall, despite the fact that weeks earlier he had resigned after a recording of his racist comments was leaked.

Greene was sworn back into office last week, prompting District Attorney Jon David to relaunch his effort to get Greene removed from office and permanently disqualified. The announcement of Greene’s latest resignation came during a hearing on David’s petition, according to news outlets.

A superior court judge said the resignation announcement effectively ended David’s effort to remove Greene from office. David said the judge hadn’t yet made a decision on barring Greene from office.

“This office has been very consistent with where we stand on this issue. We simply do not feel as though Jody Greene should be someone who ever carries a badge again,” David said.

David began his quest to have Greene removed from office last year, alleging that the white sheriff had engaged in racial profiling of employees both personally and through those under his command. David abandoned the effort after Greene resigned at an October hearing on his removal, but resumed after Greene was sworn in again.

The recording of the phone call was given to WECT-TV by a former sheriff’s captain who was Greene’s opponent in last year’s race for sheriff. Located about 120 miles southeast of Raleigh, Columbus County has about 50,000 people and is approximately 63% white and 30% Black.

In the 2019 call to then-Capt. Jason Soles, who was temporarily serving as sheriff, Greene said he believed someone in the sheriff’s office was leaking information to former Sheriff Lewis Hatcher, who is Black, the station reported.

“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these Black (expletives),” Greene is recorded saying. “I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”

In a statement, Greene said the recording had been edited or altered, but he didn’t deny that he was on the call or that he made the statements.

Greene won November’s race with 54% of the vote, despite the recording, Greene’s initial resignation as well as David’s warning that he would again seek to remove Greene from office should he be reelected. Attorney Michael Mills said Greene continued his campaign to make sure that voters, not the district attorney, decided who served as the next sheriff.

Chief Deputy Kevin Norris will serve as interim sheriff until the county Board of Commissioners appoints a permanent replacement.