Sheriff “Hollywood Hewett” Sentenced to 16 Months
by Mark Wilson
Like a moth to a flame, North Carolina Sheriff Ronald Hewett had a fatal attraction to television cameras and the bright spotlight. In the end, “Hollywood Hewett’s” mistress betrayed him, exposing the flamboyant crime fighter as just another hypocritical, corrupt public official.
During 14 years as sheriff, Hewett routinely staged news conferences to discuss not-so-newsworthy events and he made appearances at every high profile, public Brunswick County event. When his popularity and distinctive crime fighting techniques caught the eye of a filmmaker who wanted to create a documentary about the man behind the badge, Hewett couldn’t resist the temptation.
The image that developed, however, could not have been what Hewett envisioned.
Dozens of subordinates described Hewett as a sheriff who ordered his officers, on county time, to do landscape and construction work on his house, campaign for him and engage in other misdeeds. Female employees reported that the self-proclaimed church-going man made sexual comments to them. Many others described a man who mixed alcohol and sleeping pills and responded to crime scenes intoxicated.
When a federal grand jury began investigating Hewett in December, 2006, he instructed his deputies to assert their Fifth Amendment privilege or testify vaguely. As a result, Hewett was convicted of obstructing justice and sentenced to 16 months in federal prison.
He also pleaded guilty to a state charge of embezzlement by a public official and received a four month concurrent sentence. On November 18, 2008, Hewett began serving his sentence at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex, a minimum security prison near Raleigh, North Carolina.
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