Local News

Former Franklin sheriff pleads guilty to embezzlement

Posted August 17, 2012 10:53 a.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2012 8:17 p.m. EDT

— Franklin County's former sheriff pleaded guilty Friday to two felony counts of embezzlement and was sentenced to three to five years in prison for taking more than $221,000 from the county.

As part of the plea deal, Pat Green also agreed to re-pay all the money to the county, including approximately $18,000 that will go to the local school system.

That money was repaid Friday, and Green's attorneys asked Superior Court Judge Stephens to consider that when determining a sentence.

Green faced a maximum of 124 months in prison had the case gone to trial.

In a tearful address to the court, the former sheriff, who was highly respected in the community, admitted that he deserves to go to prison for betraying the public's trust.

"The people of this county trusted me and loved me, and I love them," Green said. "Those of you that hate or wish ill will toward me, I can't blame you."

Stephens called the case a prime example of why there is so much public distrust of government.

"Sir, there's no wonder that the average citizen is so cynical of government, because on days like today they have every right to be," Stephens said. "I'm so disheartened."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper expressed similar sentiments in a statement Friday afternoon.

"Law enforcement and elected officials have a solemn trust with the public that must be upheld," he said. "Our State Bureau of Investigators and our special prosecutors are dedicated to making sure law breakers are held accountable."

Green resigned last year after the State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into missing money, $203,000 which had been earmarked for undercover drug buys between October 2007 and December 2010. The rest was drug money, which would have eventually gone to Franklin County Schools, that was taken from the sheriff's office evidence room.

Danny Mayes, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, said Green repeatedly requested money from the county finance office for a major drug investigation. Court records indicate Green told county Finance Director Chuck Murray that it involved a county commissioner and two senators.

One day, during a conversation with a sheriff's deputy over a copy machine in the county office, Murray realized there was no drug investigation, Mayes said.

SBI agents later interviewed Green, who admitted to taking as much as $90,000 while in a state of depression following the November 2008 death of his first wife.

Green told the SBI that he also used some of the drug unit money to pay his mortgage and other bills.