Orange County

Orange County district attorney closes investigation into whether deputy stole signs

Chief Deputy Jamison Sykes jokes around with Sheriff Charles Blackwood on March 3, 2016, while visiting the county’s schools.
Chief Deputy Jamison Sykes jokes around with Sheriff Charles Blackwood on March 3, 2016, while visiting the county’s schools. Contributed

Orange County's district attorney won't pursue charges against a sheriff's deputy accused of tampering with campaign signs.

District Attorney Jim Woodall said his office has closed the investigation into whether Chief Deputy Jamison Sykes removed a campaign sign, finding "insufficient evidence to prosecute."

Jim Woodall
Jim Woodall File photo

"Both Byron Beasley, my senior assistant district attorney, and I reviewed the investigation," Woodall said in a June 7 email. "In addition our office investigator, Laurin Smith, reviewed the file and interviewed [a witness ... who] indicated she did not want the matter pursued."

The witness didn't name Sykes when she reported following a black Ford pickup driven by someone who had pulled up signs in April to the dead-end road, Sykes Drive. Sykes was put on administrative leave while the county's lead investigator looked into the claim, in consultation with the N.C. Bureau of Investigation.

The allegation was the culmination of a heated Democratic primary race between the incumbent Sheriff Charles Blackwood and his opponent Tony White. Blackwood, who won the primary and has no Republican opponent this fall, said he never thought Sykes had anything to do with sign tampering.

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"But I also knew that if I didn't take this action, it would come back to bite me in the butt that I had protected him and not done a thorough investigation to make certain that he had nothing to do with it," Blackwood said.

Sykes said last week he is ready to get back to work serving Orange County residents and enforcing the law.

"Although I was shocked to learn that insinuations were made about my role in this matter, I was fully cooperative in both the criminal and internal affairs investigations," Sykes said. "At all times, I was confident in the process and am pleased that the allegations were found to be baseless and without merit."

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926; @TammyGrubb
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