DA asks for outside prosecutor in Byrd case

Commissioner Giles "Buddy" Byrd has been cleared of larceny charges, according to the district attorney's office.
Commissioner Giles "Buddy" Byrd has been cleared of larceny charges, according to the district attorney's office.

Resource Prosecutor Charles Spahos will represent the state in the larceny case against County Commissioner Giles “Buddy” Byrd.

Byrd was arrested Friday on charges of felony larceny and possession of stolen goods. He was released on $25,000 unsecured bond. He serves as Commissioner for District Three.

Asst. District Attorney Jacob Ward said in an email Wednesday that the prosecutor’s office made the decision very early to ask for assistance from outside the judicial district.

“As an office, we are committed to prosecuting cases in a manner that gives our community confidence that everyone is treated fairly, despite titles or positions,” Ward wrote.” We want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  

“For this reason, we have requested and were granted authority to assign this prosecution to the Conference of District Attorneys. Resource Prosecutor Charles “Chuck” Spahos will be prosecuting this case on behalf of the State of North Carolina.”

Charles Spahos

Spahos has been the chief financial crimes prosecutor for the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys since January 2018, according to the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments. He previously served as executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.

Ward said that early in the investigation, District Attorney Jon David   notified the Sheriff’s Office via email that the state would be requesting a conflict prosecutor. 

“Mr. Spahos has already been in contact with the Sheriff’s Office,” Ward said.

Byrd is alleged to have taken a $6,300 storage barn from a lot at Last Chance Campground near Lake Waccamaw without the permission of the barn’s owner. The barn was then set up on property Byrd owns at Lake Waccamaw, and later returned.

Byrd’s attorney, Mike Willis, said Wednesday that Maury Reaves owes Last Chance $1,200 for unpaid rent. 

“He rented the lot there for somewhere around a year or so,” Willis said. 

Willis said Byrd’s arrest was politically motivated, and the case is a landlord-tenant dispute, not a case of larceny. Byrd, a Democrat, has been a vocal critic of Sheriff Jody Greene, who is a Republican, who has publicly criticized Byrd on social media. The two have sparred since before the election, when then-candidate Greene spotlighted a known drug troublespot not far from Byrd’s home in Hallsboro in videos leading up to the election. Byrd has voted against paying repair bills for the sheriff’s office helicopters and allowing the CCSO to purchase some vehicles, since Byrd said Greene did not follow standard county purchasing guidelines. 

Willis said the campground is owned by Byrd and a partner, and is filed as a limited liability partnership in good standing with the Office of the Secretary of State.  Tax records show the campground is owned by Giles Byrd and Sons., Inc. and lists Mike Butts of Lake Waccamaw as a partner. 

Byrd was first elected to the county board of commissioners in 1986, and served a four-year term. He then returned to office in 2008, and was reelected in 2012 and 2016. He faces a challenge in the November election from Ray Battle a Republican from Red Hill Road who is retired from the N.C. Highway Patrol.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].