Former Franklin sheriff indicted on embezzlement charges
Posted October 25, 2011 10:46 a.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2011 6:59 p.m. EDT
Louisburg, N.C. — A Franklin County grand jury has indicted former Sheriff Pat Green on two counts of embezzlement, authorities said Tuesday.
Green, who resigned in January as the State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into money missing from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, made his first court appearance on Tuesday afternoon. He wept as the judge read the charges aloud.
Green is accused of taking $221,543 from the sheriff's office between Nov. 20, 2007, and Jan. 30, 2011, according to the indictments. Of that money, $203,300 was earmarked for undercover drug buys. He is accused of taking the rest from the sheriff's evidence room.
According to court records, Green received $232,000 for the sheriff's office drug unit between October 2007 and December 2010, but only $28,900 went to the unit for undercover drug buys.
SBI agents interviewed Green in June about the unaccounted money, and he admitted to taking as much as $90,000 while in a state of depression following the November 2008 death of his first wife, Tracy.
"I took money. I'm not going to lie to y'all," an application for a search warrant quotes Green as saying. "I've been depressed. I wanted to stay home. I took money to buy things for the kids."
The document doesn't elaborate on whether "the kids" are Green's children or other children.
Green told the SBI that he also used some of the drug unit money to pay his mortgage and other bills.
Franklin County in February released nearly 300 pages of emails and financial records dating to 2008 that detail numerous requests by Green for thousands of dollars that he said were to be used for undercover drug investigations.
According to the documents, county Finance Director Chuck Murray said the sheriff told him that "he was working on a huge federal drug investigation that involved a county commissioner and two senators."
Previously released documents show that Green also received thousands of dollars in donations to the annual Shop with a Cop program for underprivileged children, and much of the money wasn't accounted for. Green reimbursed the sheriff's office for $6,000 of that money in March.
Even with Green's admission, an SBI agent said in the search warrant application, more than $100,000 in unused drug unit money remained unaccounted for, and investigators have been trying to track it down.
Green was released Tuesday after posting $100,000 bond. He declined to comment about the charges.
If convicted, Green faces a maximum of 28 months in prison on each charge.
Bryant Barnett, a life-long resident who lives near Green, believes the former sheriff's punishment should be severe.
"I think he does need jail time. He was breaking the same laws he was trying to enforce," Barnett said.
Franklin County commissioners three weeks ago named Jerry Jones, who preceded Green as sheriff, to succeed him and once again lead the sheriff's office.