A North Carolina sheriff who was reelected despite resigning in October 2022 after a secret recording of a racist conversation was leaked to the public has stepped down from his post again.
It is also the second time he resigned to end a campaign by the district attorney to permanently remove and prohibit him from serving as the county’s top cop ever again.
Fifty-eight days after his election victory and after District Attorney Jon David relaunched a new investigation to have him removed, Jody Greene announced in court that he was resigning. The news brought a halt to a hearing where David was presenting his case against Greene to the court, according to reports.
As a result of his resignation, Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser said a hearing to fire Greene was null and void. While the case against the former law enforcement officer has ended, David is still waiting for the court to decide if Greene can be barred from ever holding that office again.
After the shake-up, Chief Deputy Kevin Norris was appointed interim sheriff until the county Board of Commissioners can select a permanent replacement.
Almost two months ago, on Nov. 8, 2022, Jody Greene was reelected as sheriff of the relatively small county. At the time, many were shocked at his win, edging his opponent Jason Soles by an unofficial count of 1,576 voters out of the approximately 18,500 ballots cast.
The slim margin was not as surprising as the controversial allegations, supported by audio clips, swirling around Greene’s character. Many believed not only is he a bigot, based on the comments he made about Black people on the recording but that he said he would use his power as sheriff to disenfranchise some “Black bastards” he considered snitches.
The audio was recorded in 2019 by Soles, who was one of Greene’s deputies and released weeks before the election.
“I’m telling you, they [Black people who worked with him] might as well find somewhere else to go. Because if you ain’t with me – I ain’t referring to you – but if they’re not with me, they’re against me. And they’re gone. And that’s just how it’s going to be,” Greene said on the recording.
Greene even called people by name. “Clarity (whatever her name is), I don’t trust her. Dawn says she’s racist… If I have to fire every mother f***er out there, guess what?”
In one of the most inflammatory comments on the audio, the former sheriff was heard declaring, “I’m sick of these Black bastards. I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”
When the audio was released, David sought to have Greene removed from the seat.
But Greene, who was originally elected in 2018 as sheriff, resigned in October after the tape was released and made national headlines. He ran again for the same seat, winning it with a 54 percent margin in a county that is 64 percent white and a little over 30 percent Black.
His attorney Michael Mills said his client ran so the people could decide who should be the sheriff and not the district attorney. “He has accomplished that,” Mills said.
Having the court weigh in on if it will disqualify him from the post, a legal move to prevent him from ever running again is crucial to the district attorney.
“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.
The disqualification from running is not the only legal obstacle Greene is facing.
According to The News & Observer, an order to seal a search warrant affidavit was filed in state court in December 2022 referencing an “ongoing investigation involving numerous state and federal agencies,” including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
After the hearing ended, David referenced a criminal probe by the State Bureau of Investigation but did not go into details, saying, “Nothing about Jody Greene’s resignation today changes the fact that there is a comprehensive investigation which is ongoing and will persist into the future not just against Sheriff Greene, but into the deputies under his command.”