Documents reveal why sheriff may have resigned

LOUISBURG, N.C. Green abruptly retired as Franklin County Sheriff in January, citing health and personal matters. But the focus of a hearing Tuesday suggests missing money may be the real reason.

Green's attorneys tried to convince a judge to keep documents sealed in the investigation related to an audit of the sheriff's office, but a judge denied the request Tuesday.

From the district attorney to the attorney general, everyone except the sheriff wanted the documents released to the public.

"I believe that these -- if released at this time -- may jeopardize my client's right to a fair trial in the event he should have to be indicted and tried," Green's attorney John Williams said at Tuesday's hearing.

The documents suggest several Franklin County employees, including the finance director and county manager, suspected the former sheriff was taking money from the department as far back as 2008.

The document suggests the finance director raised concerns in December 2009 over the amount of drug money the sheriff's department was spending.

An email suggests the lead drug agent for the sheriff's office "looked very concerned" when he saw the history of checks the county had written to the department for drug funds.

The same concerns were later echoed during an audit in June of last year in which the finance director said there was a risk for embezzling, citing the $160,000 the county paid the sheriff in cash for drug funds. The finance director noted that amount was typically closer to $30,000 a year.

The sheriff reportedly told the finance director he was spending the large sums of money on a confidential and "huge" federal drug investigation involving a county commissioner. Auditors seem to have been pressing the sheriff for documentation on the money when he abruptly resigned late last month.

There were also some concerns raised about checks written directly to Green for thousands of dollars - checks that apparently were not deposited with Franklin County.

The documents suggest that at one point it was recommended the sheriff take a polygraph test. He later decided against it.

Despite how the numbers add up, Green's attorney suggests there's more to the story.

"There are a lot of memos in there, things that in my opinion are conjecture," Williams said.

The SBI's investigation is ongoing. Green has not been charged with any crime.

County commissioners have said they won't appoint Green's replacement until it's complete.

Green was elected sheriff in 2006 and was re-elected in November.

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