One of the nation’s most flamboyant cops, Davidson County, N.C., Sheriff Gerald Hege, resigned yesterday as part of a plea agreement, reports the Charlotte Observer. Hege, 55, pleaded guilty to two felony obstruction charges; he was placed on three years’ probation, the first three months under house arrest. “When you’re the leader of anything, you’re the man to take it on the chin,” Hege told Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour, according to The Associated Press. “When that happens, I accept my responsibility.”
Hege, known for painting the jail walls pink in Lexington, N.C., was charged with 15 felonies, including embezzlement and obstruction of justice. County employees accused Hege of misusing taxpayer money, racial profiling, and ordering deputies to beat inmates.
“I was surprised at what transpired in court,” said Fred Sink, chairman of the Davidson Board of County Commissioners. “But I think it was the proper thing to do. Knowing Gerald for as long as I’ve known him, I thought he might fight a while longer.” County commissioners are expected to name a replacement next month to fill the last two years of Hege’s term. Hege, a Republican, was elected sheriff in 1994 and was twice re-elected. By law, his replacement must be a Republican.