Local News

Sampson deputy cleared of wrongdoing

Posted July 24, 2009 3:09 p.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2014 7:30 p.m. EDT

Editor's Note: Subsequent investigations cleared Deputy Bobby Smith of any wrongdoing. The district attorney's office resumed prosecuting Smith's cases. He remained with the Sampson County Sheriff's Office, and as of August 2014, was a sergeant who oversees booking at the county jail.

Sampson County's district attorney says he won't prosecute any cases handled by a sheriff's deputy.

Citing "false and misleading information" in Deputy Bobby Smith's reports, District Attorney Dewey Hudson said in a June 30 memo to all court officers that he would no longer prosecute any criminal cases the narcotics investigator has handled.

Hudson, the chief prosecutor in the Fourth Prosecutorial District, which also includes Duplin, Jones and Onslow counties, said he based the decision on two felony cases from Smith that he has had to dismiss.

"I found in one case, when a husband and wife were charged, he had misunderstood the law and that they probably should not have been charged," Hudson said.

In another case, Hudson said Smith falsely reported seeing a drug suspect running out of a building.

"I'm not going to sit here and say Mr. Smith is corrupt," Hudson said. "The quality of how he handled these particular cases concerns me so that I was compelled to do what I did."

Smith, who has been in law enforcement for 16 years and has worked in Sampson County since 2006, is currently on administrative duty.

"He's a good employee, but we are concerned," Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said.

Thornton said he began his own inquiries after Hudson alerted him weeks before the memo.

Hudson will review all of Smith's cases from last year. It's unclear how many cases Hudson's decision will affect or if Smith acted illegally.

"We'll just have to wait and see," Thornton said. "Just because there may be a dark cloud out there, doesn't mean it's going to rain."