By Sarah Nagem
Jody Greene, who was suspended from his duties as Columbus County sheriff earlier this month for making racist comments, had a monthslong sexual relationship with a detective in his office, according to newly filed court documents.
The affair between Greene, who is married, and the female detective took place from September 2019 to May 2020, according to an affidavit by former deputy Victor Jacobs. In court records filed Friday by local district attorney Jon David, Jacobs said the detective became pregnant with Greene’s child, which angered the sheriff.
“She asked me to drive her to get an abortion, but I refused,” Jacobs said in the affidavit, adding that the woman drove herself to Wilmington to terminate the pregnancy.
The relationship is among several new allegations outlined by David in an amended petition to the court to remove Greene from office. The documents, which include several affidavits, paint a picture of a troubled sheriff accused of firing a Black sergeant, threatening to arrest Soles and trying to influence county commissioners.
A hearing is scheduled for Monday, when a North Carolina will determine whether Greene will be removed from office.
Greene, who was elected as the first Republican sheriff of Columbus County in 2018, was suspended Oct. 4 by Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser at David’s request. The move came days after an audio recording from 2019 surfaced in which Greene made racist comments about Black deputies.
Jason Soles, a Democrat who recorded the call while he worked at the sheriff’s office, is challenging Greene in the Nov. 8 election.
In the amended petition, David said Greene committed “corruption while in office” and “willful misconduct and maladministration in office.”
“(Greene) has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he is willing to misuse the power and authority inherent of the office of sheriff for improper and personal gain,” David said in the petition. “He has used his office to hire and fire deputies based on race and to curry political favor. He has abused his power to decide which laws are enforced and against whom they are enforced. He has chilled the first amendment rights of free speech, attempted to improperly influence his negotiations with county commissioners, and unfairly targeted and unjustly arrested citizens.”
Soon after Greene was elected in 2018, he “was convinced there was a leak in his office,” David said in the petition.
According to the petition, Greene requested phone records from Verizon for Lewis Hatcher, the incumbent who did not win reelection, and Sgt. Melvin Campbell. Hatcher and Campbell are Black.
In an affidavit, Campbell said he was fired from the sheriff’s office in January 2019, just weeks before the phone call between Greene and Soles.
Campbell, who began work with the sheriff’s office in 2016, said in the affidavit that he did not “openly support” Hatcher.
He also said he “never received any warnings, notices, or complaints of any kind” while working under Greene at the sheriff’s office. But on or around Jan. 28, 2019, he said, Chief Deputy Aaron Herring fired him.
“Herring informed me that the sheriff had instructed him to let me know that my services were no longer needed,” Campbell said. “When I asked why I was being terminated, Herring told me that the sheriff no longer required my services.”
Another Black deputy, Joshua Harris, said in an affidavit that Greene tried to transfer him from the civil division to a role as a school resource officer.
During a phone call with Greene in March 2019, Harris said, the sheriff told him, “I heard you don’t support me.”
According to the affidavit, Harris told Greene he did not support him during the 2018 election but supported him as his boss.
Greene then accused Harris of “talking junk” about him, the affidavit says, and Greene commented, “When I get to the bottom of it someone is going to be a fired ass.”
Harris said he resigned after the phone call.
After Soles resigned from the sheriff’s office, Greene worked to prevent him from working for the Whiteville Police Department, according to allegations in the court filing.
In late 2019, David said, an “irate” Greene called Whiteville City Manager Darren Currie to complain about the city’s decision to hire Soles as an officer.
In an affidavit, Currie said he and Greene had a “very heated” conversation in which the sheriff threatened to arrest Soles if he went on county property and to impound any city-owned vehicle Soles was driving to the magistrate’s office and jail.
Soles resigned from the department three weeks later, Currie said, in an effort to “keep the peace and not create conflict for the City of Whiteville.” Soles now serves as an auxiliary officer.
In March 2020, records show, Soles’ stepfather Jesse Lee Croom was arrested by sheriff’s deputies when he told Greene “to grow up” following a county commissioners’ meeting. Croom was charged with disorderly conduct in a public building, records show, but a district court judge “quashed” the charge.
Months later, in summer 2020, Greene lashed out at a county commissioner after the board voted against “significant” pay raises and riot gear for the sheriff’s office, records say.
Greene’s deputies also arrested another commissioner, Giles “Buddy” Byrd, on suspicion of property crimes. An outside “conflict prosecutor” said the charge should be dismissed.
At a later commission meeting, David said, Greene “allowed several of the officers under his employ to line up in an apparent attempt to intimidate the county commissioners.”
Greene’s alleged affair with a detective could intensify criticism in Columbus County, a rural area of 55,000 people that often prides itself on faith and conservative ideals.
In an affidavit, Deputy Jacobs, who resigned in May 2020, said he suspected Greene was attracted to the detective. He said he became aware of their romantic relationship in 2019.
Jacobs said the detective told him that she had sex with Greene in his office, at his home in Cherry Grove Beach, S.C., and at a local shooting range. He said the detective kicked out the window of Greene’s county-issued vehicle during one sexual encounter.
In court documents, David said Greene “neglected his responsibilities and duties of office by continuing a sexual relationship with a subordinate during working hours.”
“Such a relationship may be the product of subtle or not-so-subtle coercion,” David said, and “may undermine the organization’s reputation for fairness.”