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Ex-Brunswick sheriff pleads guilty to federal charges

Ronald Hewett pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in a federal grand jury investigation involving his office.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A former Brunswick County sheriff pleaded guilty Monday to charges of obstructing justice in a federal grand jury investigation into allegations of corruption within his office.

Authorities began investigating Ronald Hewett in December 2006 regarding allegations that he was misusing public funds by ordering deputies, while on duty, to perform manual labor at his house and to work on his election campaigns.

Federal authorities said Hewett also met with deputies subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in an attempt to tamper with their testimony. He told them, in part, to be vague in their answers, telling one captain, "What you don't tell, you don't have to explain."

Investigators said he also told a deputy he had a lot to lose by testifying before the grand jury and asked how the deputy would be able to pay his mortgage without a job.

Hewett could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

His sentencing has been set for Sept. 8.

Hewett, 44, of Supply, was elected Brunswick County sheriff in 1994 and served until March, when he resigned in wake of the charge against him.

John Ingram took the oath as sheriff last month.

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