DOJ initiates investigation of Oakboro police chief, COVID cards

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

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After returning to work this week following a two-week suspension, Oakboro Police Chief T.J. Smith is facing another investigation.

T.J. Smith

The Stanly News & Press obtained a copy of a letter received Monday by Oakboro Town Administrator Doug Burgess from the North Carolina Department of Justice (DOJ).

Richard Squires, the deputy director of the DOJ, states in the letter the department’s Criminal Justice Standards Division has initiated a preliminary investigation into Smith. The investigation stems from recent reports of Smith “allegedly notifying law enforcement officers of a clinic where they would be able to obtain proof of COVID-19 vaccinations cards without being vaccinated.”

The letter requests copies the town of Oakboro has of “internal investigations or other reports” regarding the incident. A notarized written statement from Smith was also requested by the DOJ letter.

According to the letter, any information received by the standards division “would not be used for any criminal prosecution or for any investigation into the employee’s tax liability” referring to North Carolina General Statute 160A-168(c)(5).

Smith, who returned to work Tuesday, did not comment on the DOJ letter or the investigation.

An email from the DOJ said the department did not release the letter and added they were “unable to comment on personnel matters.”

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About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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