Local News

Wake Sheriff-Elect Responds To WRAL Investigation

Posted November 22, 2002

— A WRAL investigation raised questions about the work habits of a highly paid Wake County employee.

Some workers complain the jail's medical director shows up about 10 hours a week. At the same time, WRAL found Dr. Obi Umesi moonlights as many as 50 hours a week for the Department of Correction.

"I think I'm giving them the worth of their money. That's no question," Umesi said.

While Umesi defends his work habits at the Wake County Jail, some co-workers question whether he earns his $155,000 salary. After WRAL's report, Donnie Harrison, Wake County's sheriff-elect, questions the same thing.

"To me that's just wrong. It's a bad precedent to set for anybody," Harrison said.

It turns out that before WRAL started its investigation into Umesi's work habits, Harrison was doing his own investigating.

"From what I was finding out, he wasn't ever there but eight to 10 hours a week max," he said.

Harrison said he can easily find more work for the doctor, like adding physical exams for deputies and other duties. Right now, Harrison said he is considering options.

"To see if we can get a doctor at better rate or if we can contract it out or if we can go through health services. There are several ways that I'm looking at," Harrison said.

The sheriff-elect said he understands Umesi is a good doctor who could still have a future at the jail.

"I'll judge him myself," Harrison said. "I'll see what we can work out and what we can do. I can assure you this -- it will no be happening like it is now."

Harrison said he will make decisions regarding Umesi and other employees after he takes office on Dec. 2.

WRAL tried to get reaction from Sheriff John Baker, but he did not return the calls.


Gil Hollingsworth


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