The F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies have arrested a North Carolina police chief and his top lieutenant who were allegedly working at a trucking company when they were supposed to be policing the city of Southport.
Southport Police Chief Gary Smith, 46, and Lieutenant Michael Simmons were arrested today and charged with felony conspiracy to obtain property under false pretenses, one count of misdemeanor willfully failing to discharge duties, and one count of misdemeanor obstruction of justice.
The charges stem from a long term investigation conducted by the F.B.I and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Investigators discovered that Smith and Simmons were working for an unnamed trucking company while they were on the clock and being paid by the the city of Southport. The two men were often not even in the state of North Carolina at the time when they were supposed to be working because they were working across state lines, investigators say.
Brunswick County District Attorney Jon David said, “While these officers were reportedly on the clock, they were not even in the city of Southport. By the time these allegations were brought to us, it had been going on for a significant amount of time.”
With Smith and Simmons often out of the city working for the trucking company, the Southport Police Department was described as a “ghost ship” with no one directing lower ranking police officers.
As part of the investigation, the entire Southport Police Department was placed on paid administrative leave. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office will take over policing duties inside of Southport for the time being.
Smith is being held in jail without bail.
David noted, “It’s not unusual that a police officer would have a second job. However, there was a dereliction of duties … that really caused concern.”
Smith earned a salary of $65,546.21 this year from the city of Southport. He has worked in law enforcement for more than twenty years.