08/13/07 — Ex-chief continues to deny gas thefts

View Archive

Ex-chief continues to deny gas thefts

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 13, 2007 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - Town officials say they have a videotape substantiating claims the town's former police chief misused the town's credit card.

Emmett Ballree, who resigned his post in July, continues to deny the charges that he did anything wrong with gas usage.

The town released a credit card statement and a charge record from the gas station where at least one incident allegedly occurred.

According to town officials, Ballree allegedly used the credit card twice to purchase gas, totaling $104.03 -- some of which was for personal use.

When asked for all statements of the Mount Olive Police Department from January to July, Town Manager Charles Brown provided a June statement and a July charge record.

On June 9, Ballree purchased 18.357 gallons of gas at $2.8429 a gallon, totaling his gas purchase at $52.19, according to the credit card statement. The charge record shows that he also purchased 17.244 gallons totaling $51.84 on July 10.

In a previous interview, Brown said he could not say how many gallons actually went into Ballree's personal vehicle, but he felt confident that the allegation about the improper use of the credit card could be substantiated.

According to one town official who asked not to be identified, the town was able to substantiate the claims of credit card misuse after viewing a surveillance tape from the Handy Mart located on North Breazeale Avenue.

When asked for the tape, neither the town nor the Mount Olive Police Department produced it.

Brown has been asked several times to provide details about the alleged incident. However, he declined to release any further information, saying that it was "a dead issue."

"It's almost a month old. I don't want to put any more stress on our police department. They have gotten past and gone beyond (Ballree's resignation), and they are doing a great job. At this point in time, I don't have any more comment. As far as we're concerned, it's over and done. Action has been taken. I don't want to comment on old news."

Ballree, after 22 years of service to the town including 13 years as chief, resigned July 20. He continues to say that he will not address specific allegations. Instead, he pointed to his untarnished record with Mount Olive and his extensive knowledge of the area and its residents.

"I know they had cameras (at the Handy Mart). We have used them in a law enforcement capacity before. If I was out trying to rob the town, I don't think I would do it on the busiest street with cameras."

In an earlier interview, Brown said the issue was closed after Ballree handed in his resignation. He also said the town would not turn the case over to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for prosecution.

The Mount Olive Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office were not involved with investigations surrounding the gas usage, officials from both departments said.

Ballree said that Brown's unwillingness to pursue the matter further is indicative that he did nothing wrong.

"They talk about all this wrongdoing and all this evidence, and (Brown) said they would not pursue it?" Ballree said.

Ballree said he is also ready to move on and will continue to pursue a new career outside of Mount Olive law enforcement.