07/30/12 — Ballree facing more charges

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Ballree facing more charges

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 30, 2012 1:46 PM

BOILING SPRING LAKES -- Police Chief Emmett Ballree Friday morning has been suspended with pay by City Manager Jeff Repp as part of a continuing investigation.

Repp said the inquiry involves alleged abuse of power by the police chief. He did not say what that alleged abuse involved. Boiling Spring Lakes is located just southwest of Wilmington and north of Southport.

The investigation is not a part of a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into complaints against Ballree, former chief of police in Mount Olive, Repp said this morning.

"(The town's investigation) should be fairly quick, but I have not put a time frame on it," he said.

Repp said he had been contacted by someone in the community last Thursday who made the complaint. He said he spoke with Ballree Friday morning to "get his side of the story."

"He was suspended at 10 a.m. Friday with pay based on the complaint I received from a citizen," Repp said.

Ballree, in a June 11 e-mail to members of his department, said that allegations of possible obstruction of justice sparked the SBI investigation.

The e-mail did not provide any specifics about the allegations, and SBI and Brunswick County district attorney's office officials have declined comment.

In the e-mail, Ballree called the allegations "unfounded" and said that he had his own "opinion as to what and who" is behind them.

The SBI investigation was opened June 4 at the request of Jon David, district attorney for Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties, and Chief Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis.

According to David, the investigation was a preliminary inquiry, the results of which would determine whether a full criminal investigation was warranted.

David said the county asked the SBI to open the inquiry after he was contacted on May 25 about "alleged criminal activity" involving Ballree.

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.

SBI spokesperson Noelle Talley said this morning that the SBI investigation is in its final stages.

Once completed, prosecutors will review the findings to make any decision about any charges that may be warranted, she said.