06/12/12 — Former MOPD chief is facing inquiry

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Former MOPD chief is facing inquiry

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 12, 2012 2:26 PM

BOILING SPRING LAKES -- Former Mount Olive police chief Emmett Ballree, who is now police chief in this small town just southwest of Wilmington, is under scrutiny by the State Bureau of Investigation concerning an undisclosed allegation concerning possible criminal activity.

The investigation was confirmed this morning by SBI Public Information Officer Noelle Talley. Ms. Talley said she could not comment on the nature of the allegation or the investigation.

"I can confirm that the SBI opened an investigation at the request of a superior court judge and the DA down there," she said. "It is ongoing at this time. Mr. Ballree is the subject."

Ms. Talley said the SBI is not commenting on the nature of the investigation or what sparked it. She referred questions on those issue to Jon David, district attorney for Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties.

David called the ongoing investigation a preliminary inquiry, the results of which would determine whether a full criminal investigation would be called for. He expects the inquiry to be completed by the end of the week.

"I was contacted May 25 about alleged criminal activity," David said. "In light of that, I and Chief Judge Ola Lewis asked the SBI. We asked the SBI for a preliminary inquiry to see if a full investigation was warranted."

David said the SBI had been asked for the inquiry on May 28 and had acted quickly on the request.

Boiling Spring Lakes Town Manager Jeff Repp would only confirm that an officer in the department is being investigated. Repp said he was limiting his comments because it is a SBI matter and because the town had not sought the investigation.

"The SBI, in fact, is investigating an officer and some have reported it as our police chief -- I am not going that far," Repp said. "I cannot confirm it is the chief. I will leave that to the SBI. I have spoken with the officer and he has given me some information."

He did not say what the information was.

Repp said he first became aware of the investigation about two weeks ago. He said the officer came to him about a week and a half ago and told him he had been contacted by the SBI. The officer is still on the job.

"Everybody is still working at the police department," he said.

Ballree served as Mount Olive police chief for 13 years before resigning in 2007 after town officials alleged he had used a town gas card to buy fuel for his personal cars. However, Ballree was cleared by a state Department of Justice Training and Standards committee.