Hopefully you caught Daniel Kraus's "Sheriff" on Documentary Channel last night. If you missed it and haven't seen it before, you might not want to read further. This post doesn't necessarily feature spoilers for the doc itself, but I do plan on discussing things that have occurred after its filming was over. And I think it best to see it without knowledge of what has happened to the subjects since "Sheriff" was shot in 1999-2001. Fortunately, you canget the DVD from the DOC Store and catch up if need be.
Ready for the update?
In the film, Ronald E. Hewett is the award-winning Sheriff of Brunswick County, North Carolina, an elected position he's served since 1995. As I mentioned in my previous post on the film, he's an unbelievable character but an understandable one given that he represents a line between cop and politician. He's very, very likable yet I found him to be a bit of a ham (it makes sense he was often called "Hollywood Hewett") and possibly not really as perfect a policeman as he seems. He's possibly just good at selling himself to a crowd, whether in person or through the media.
So after watching I had to research Hewett and see at least if he still held the sheriff position in Brunswick County. He does not. The short answer of where he is today is this: while I can't confirm he's still employed there, up until mid-January of this year he was a car salesman at a Ford dealership. A news article from the time reports he'd just been named salesperson of the month for December.
The long answer of how he got there and away from the law enforcement job is that he was forced to resign from the position in 2008 following a grand jury investigation beginning in 2006. Before officially stepping down he was suspended and then indicted on state charges of embezzlement and obstruction of justice.
Specifically the obstruction charges stemmed from a child molestation case involving a distant relative (as seen in the film, Hewett had many relatives in the area), which resulted in unlawful interference by the Sheriff. The embezzlement related to Hewett's use of public funds and his police officers for personal use, such as painting campaign signs and landscaping on his property.
He pled guilty and was sentenced to 16 months in a federal prison with a concurrent state-ordered four months. One year in, he was moved to a halfway house and then was released two months later on good behavior. That was January of 2010, after which he was put on probation for two years.
This is of course the abridged version, and you can find more detailed articles on Hewett's case at the websites of the Wilmington Star-News and the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, NBC affiliate, WMBF. And likely elsewhere if you just Google search as I did.
Online, I've seen plenty of comments shaming Hewett and then others wishing he could be re-appointed to office. Whatever your opinion of the man now, there's no doubting his life took a very interesting turn after Kraus immortalized him in the form of "Sheriff."
With so many docs getting sequels these days, I almost want a "Sheriff 2" showing us a vérité look at his life as a car salesman. Maybe it can even be the next in "The Work Series" as "Car Salesman"?
Those of you who've seen the doc, what do you think of what's happened since?