Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story 9/19/03

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Poetic justice may be an appropriate term for the travails of this week's corrupt cop, North Carolina's Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege. Hege, a follower of the Sheriff Joe Arpaio school of sanctimonious self-promotion through humiliating prisoners, was indicted this week on 15 felony counts including embezzlement -- he is charged with stealing cash from the department's drug buy fund, among other things -- and obstruction of justice.

 
no more glory days for
Sheriff Gerald Hege
The publicity-seeking Hege billed himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff," and made a reputation for himself through such stunts as painting his jail pink -- to emasculate prisoners, he proudly sneered -- posing in paramilitary uniforms, and inscribing the motto "No Deals" on patrol cars. The busy, busy sheriff also had his own program on Court TV, "Live from Cell Block F," in which inmates described their crimes and Hege berated them for the amusement of viewers. The program was broadcast from his office, which Hege thoughtfully decorated to look like a military bunker.

Hege also has his own web site, http://www.HegeCountry.com, where he poses standing atop a tank with a double-barreled shotgun. Some of the photos, also for sale as posters, bear such slogans as "This ain't Mayberry and I ain't Andy!" or "Do the crime scumbag, and you'll do the time." (These links were not working as of this morning; we don't know if it is a temporary error or if they have been removed from the site.) On the web site, Hege also brags about his toughness: "His trade mark sunglasses and military style uniforms have put fear into drug dealers and criminals throughout the southeast and are being copied by other sheriff offices. Removing TV's from the cells and putting his inmates to work wearing black and white striped uniforms have brought national attention to this North Carolina Sheriff."

Sheriff of Davidson County since 1994, Hege is accused of stealing $6,200 from an undercover drug buy fund and using part of it to pay for reelection celebrations in 1998 and 2002. He is also accused of blocking an investigation into the disappearance of money seized by his office during a criminal investigation. And he is accused of conspiring with a former county maintenance director to conduct surveillance of law enforcement officers investigating him. Additionally, Davidson County District Attorney Gary Frank, in moving to have Hege removed from office, accuses him of a pattern of intimidation and threats against deputies he believed were cooperating in investigations against him.

Hege was suspended with pay pending a September 29 hearing to remove him from office. And although he was formally arrested, booked, and fingerprinted Monday, Hege did not have the opportunity to spend some time in his pink jail because of a previous arrangement with the State Bureau of Investigation agents who escorted him to court. Curiously, this time Hege avoided the media he usually woos.

Hege faces six to eight years on each of the 15 felony accounts.

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Issue #303, 9/19/03 Editorial: Don't Stop There | A Clean, Well-Lit Place to Shoot Dope: Western Hemisphere's First Government-Approved Safe Injection Site Opens in Vancouver | And Then There Were Four: Canadian Marijuana Possession Laws Crumble | Britain's Pending Cannabis Decrim Will Allow for Some Arrests | More Than Just Memories: Cheryl Miller Memorial Project in DC Next Week | Newsbrief: Seattle Voters Tell Police to Make Marijuana Possession Lowest Priority | Newsbrief: Marijuana Legal in Alaska, But Attorney General Orders Cops to Confiscate It, Work with Feds to Build Cases | Newsbrief: Ecstasy Scandal Grows as Second Study Retracted | Newsbrief: Drug Policy Alliance Issues Report on Changes in State Drug Laws | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Reefer Madness in the Heart of Africa | Newsbrief: Campaign Comments -- John Edwards on Industrial Hemp | Newsbrief: Murderous Thai Drug War in Final Drive to be "Drug Free" | Newsbrief: UN Agency Calls for Change in Colombia Drug War Strategy | Current Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, Plan Colombia, HEA, Ashcroft's Attack on Judicial Discretion | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | Errata: Dutch MedMj, Ecstasy Study Stories Last Two Weeks | The Reformer's Calendar
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