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UPDATE: Pitt Co. D.A. Responds To Debate Clarification From Sheriff

Pitt County Sheriff Mac Manning is responding to the Pitt County District Attorney who took issue with some of what was said by the sheriff during Thursday's debate.

Manning says the comments he made did not refer to District Attorney Clark Everett, but instead to challenger Neil Elks.

WITN talked with Everett Saturday who provided this email response:

"During the debate between Mac Manning and Neil Elks, I was
concerned about statements made by Sheriff Manning regarding two
aspects of the Michelle Pollard obstruction of justice investigation.

The first was a statement that I had pulled the trigger prematurely by initiating an SBI inquiry into Michelle Pollard's conduct in June 2009 before the Pitt County Sheriff's Office was given time to complete their internal investigation. I believe my decision was timely and correctly made. At the time of my request, the Sheriff's internal investigation was apparently complete and no criminal charges were being sought. I had no conversations with the Sheriff during this investigation. The SBI conducted the investigation in an extremely competent and professional manner resulting in the indictment and later conviction of Michelle Pollard for felonious obstruction of justice.

The second was a statement implying that I had talked with the
Sheriff during the investigation revealing the identity of persons who
had provided information in this case. In fact, I had no conversation
with Sheriff Manning concerning this information until after the trial
of Michelle Pollard and after the information had been revealed
through the criminal discovery process.

Yesterday, I was contacted by Sheriff Manning and he explained
that his statement that "they pulled the trigger" was not referring to
the District Attorney's Office or the SBI and that he was satisfied
with our decisions. He also agreed that any conversations regarding
this case did not occur during the investigation but rather at a time
after Pollard's trial. Although the intent and target of these
statements made by the Sheriff will be debated, I am satisfied that in
regards to the District Attorney's Office and the SBI, the record is
now clear that the decisions made were timely and proper." Clark Everett, Pitt County D.A.

Below is the press release Manning released Saturday:

"During the sheriffs’ debate on Thursday I made a statement in rebuttal to Neil Elk’s admission that he had some involvement in the reporting of the Michelle Pollard obstruction case to the District Attorney. My first sentence spoken in the rebuttal was “Basically, they pulled the trigger prematurely.” The word “they” was referring to Elks’, his camp or whomever he was referring to that he stated made these reports to the District Attorney. I was not referring to the District Attorney or anyone in his office. Neither Elks nor anyone associated with his campaign could or would have been privy to the facts uncovered by the internal investigation at the Sheriff’s Office.

I further alluded to and stated that Elks’ involvement and admission smacked of political motivation. That has certainly played out throughout this campaign as Elks has made the Pollard case the centerpiece of his political rhetoric and seemingly his only campaign platform. Elks had long retired from the Sheriff’s Office, and was actively campaigning to unseat me at the time this incident occurred.

I want to clearly correct any perception by anyone who watched or listened to the debate and who, like the WITN reporter, interpreted my comments to be in reference to the District Attorney. Those comments by me were not intended to be in reference to the District Attorney or to be critical of any of his actions concerning the case. I have the upmost respect for District Attorney Clark Everett and believe him to be a fair and conscientious prosecutor.

Nevertheless, if anything I said reflected poorly on the District Attorney, then I sincerely apologize to him and the personnel in his office. Any negative perception toward the District Attorney regarding my comments would be undeserved and certainly not intended by me."

WITN would like to make it clear: the follow-up coverage done about the district attorney's concerns was done because of concerns we were told the district attorney had.

PREVIOUS STORY:

Pitt County District Attorney Clark Everett says he wants to set the record straight when it comes to the obstruction of justice investigation into former lieutenant Michelle Pollard. Pollard is now in prison for tipping off the target of a drug investigation.

During Thursday's televised debate between Sheriff Mac Manning and challenger Neil Elks, Manning said, "Basically, they pulled the trigger prematurely. We were conducting an internal investigation and we took appropriate action with the employee. We had not even completed our reports and our internal investigation."

Everett tells WITN News he disputes Manning's account of the action by the D.A.'S office.

Everett says, "The impression is we did something too soon, that we came barreling in. When we (D.A. & S.B.I.) got into it the sheriff's office internal investigation was over and they didn't find any criminal conduct and decided not to do anything and didn't notify us."

Everett goes on to say, "Several people contacted the D.A.'s office from several sources and we were able to substantiate their claims and start an investigation. Mac didn't know what was going on."

Manning also stated during the debate, "The evidence that was produced through our internal investigation is some of the same evidence that was eventually used in the prosecution. So I feel very confident in the action we took."

Everett says, "The internal report was not part of our investigation. It would be illegal to use an internal investigation."

Everett says he is speaking out to clear up the action taken by his office.


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