Ex-sheriff convicted of obstruction of justice seeks post
Feb. 28, 2018
LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) — The former North Carolina sheriff known for painting his jail cells pink and hosting a cable television show before pleading guilty to felony obstruction of justice announced on Wednesday that he wants his old job back.
Local news outlets report former Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege used Facebook to announce his plans to run for office. Hege tried to win the seat in 2010, but lost in a GOP primary to current Sheriff David Grice.
Hege told The Dispatch of Lexington that he decided to run after witnessing drug crimes and homicides over the past few years, including a young girl close to where he lives being beaten by drug dealers.
"I decided that I'm retired, and I have plenty of time and I have experience," Hege said. "You can sit back and moan and groan or you can get involved."
Hege was indicted in 2003 and faced 15 charges, including obtaining property by false pretenses and embezzlement. Affidavits collected in the case accused him of racial profiling, taking county money and driving his souped-up car at speeds of 150 mph (241 kph) when there was no apparent emergency.
As a convicted felon, Hege has been ineligible to run for office. He is now eligible, thanks to a new law that went into effect on Dec. 1. The new law reduces from 15 to 10 years the amount of time those convicted of non-violent felonies must wait to request that the crimes be wiped from their records.
Hege said he applied to have his record wiped clean about six weeks ago, and that it was accepted Monday. Davidson County Clerk of Court Brian Shipwash confirmed Wednesday that Hege currently has no felony convictions on his record.
Hege's loss in the primary prompted state lawmakers to offer a constitutional amendment banning felons from running for sheriff in North Carolina. It passed with 85 percent of the vote statewide. Stan Bingham, then a state senator from Davidson County who sponsored the bill that created the amendment, said Hege appears to have found a loophole that allowed him to run again.
"I feel like there will be a lot of legislators who will revisit the expungement law," Bingham said. "Anytime you make changes to the law, you end up with unintended consequences, and I think that's what's happened in this case. I'll probably call some of my friends in Raleigh and make them aware of this."