Local News

Sheriff, DA Critical Of Cooper's Involvement In Kennedy Situation

Posted August 20, 2004

— There was more fallout from a drug investigation involving a top court official.

Wake County's district attorney and the county sheriff are criticizing the attorney general for reopening what they said is a dead case.

The controversy seems to be taking on a life of its own in the past few days.

John Kennedy resigned from his position as director of the state court system after being confronted with drug accusations, which he denies. Sheriff Donnie Harrison and District Attorney Colon Willoughby did not even find enough evidence to press charges.

But now, almost a full month after the investigation by Harrison and Willoughby, Attorney General Roy Cooper is getting involved. That does not sit well with the sheriff and the district attorney.

Cooper wants the SBI to investigate the situation.

"It's a waste of time and a waste of money," Harrison said.

Political experts said Cooper has his eye on the governor's office. Willoughby has made no secret that he thinks politics are playing a role in the second-guessing of the original investigation.

"It's been said that the most dangerous place to be in this county is between a television camera and people running for governor," Willoughby said. "I think the sheriff and the chief justice and judge and I just got trampled."

Willoughby said it is unfortunate that an investigation that did not lead to an arrest became public.

"All that does is tarnish someone's reputation and is unfair," he said.

Both Harrison and Willoughby believe the case is nothing more than a personnel issue.

Cooper's office confirmed Thursday it is investigating the incident but would not comment beyond that.

For the record, Harrison is a Republican and Willoughby a Democrat. They said that even though politics may be playing a role at other levels of this situation, they handled it strictly by the book.

"I'm totally confident in what I did and what the Wake County Sheriff's Office has done," Harrison said.

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