Attorney: Substance abuse treatment needed

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

Ronald Hewett is on the road to recovery, and his attorney wants him to stay on that path while serving his 16-month prison sentence.

After being sentenced in federal court Monday afternoon, Hewett’s attorney Douglas Parsons asked that U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt recommend Hewett serve his time in a federal facility in Butner, and specifically, that Hewett participate in an intense substance abuse program, “so that he may continue on the course he’s on.”

The course, Parsons said, includes receiving treatment once a week. Hewett has been clean for five months, and wants to remain that way, he said.

Parsons said Hewett wasn’t emotionally or intellectually equipped to be the sheriff of Brunswick County, leading to paranoia, depression and substance abuse.

In 2004, Hewett began experiencing paranoia and depression, Parsons said, and turned to sleep aids and alcohol.

Hewett’s substance abuse struggles were first made public when district attorney Rex Gore filed a petition to remove Hewett from office March 27 on the grounds of intoxication, extortion, willful misconduct and neglect.

Included in the petition to remove Hewett from office were sworn affidavits of sheriff’s deputies, many of them citing Hewett’s intoxication as a danger to their jobs and to the public’s safety.

Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Gene Caison stated in his affidavit Hewett told him, “that he has to have his liquor and sleeping pills to sleep at night.”

On several occasions, Caison said Hewett arrived at crimes scenes drunk, or engaged in reckless behavior putting deputies and the public at risk.

On Sept. 8, 2003, Caison responded to a barricaded subject on Jolly Roger Street in the Holden Beach area.

“The sheriff was on the scene when I arrived and he appeared to be intoxicated. He was dressed in SWAT gear, including Kevlar helmet,” Caison states.

Hewett had his son Justin with him, who was 17 years old at the time.

“He and his son approached the front door of the residence. Hewett then screamed, ‘I’m coming in,’” Caison states, adding Hewett then kicked in the door.

In 2005, Hewett showed up at Kendrick Sparrow’s murder scene drunk and yelled for Caison and others to “get them out of here,” referring to family members and witnesses who gathered at the scene, Caison said.

“I could smell liquor from 3-4 feet away,” he said.

In his pre-sentencing report, Parsons writes, “the political and administrative pressures of his office took both an emotional and physical toll.”

“His emotional stress and paranoia became apparent to his employees resulting in numerous complaints, which eventually gave rise to the instant investigation and prosecution.”

See photos from the day of Ronald Hewett's sentencing below: