By Jonathan Austin
Yancey County News
Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks told county commissioners this week that he has hired his father, former Sheriff Kermit Banks, to work in the department.
The announcement came during a closed session of the commission called to hear a report from County Attorney Donny Laws concerning the investigation into the theft of sheriff’s department guns by former chief deputy Tom Farmer.
Commissioner Dale England said the commission was told that an investigation is ongoing regarding the pawning of the department guns. Asked if the State Bureau of Investigation is involved in the investigation, England said he couldn’t comment.
“An investigation is going on. We were just updated on what was going on,” he said.
Banks’ word that he has hired his father seems to not follow North Carolina general statute, which requires a sheriff to get official permission from the county commission before hiring a close relative.
North Carolina General Statute 153A says: “Each sheriff and register of deeds elected by the people has the exclusive right to hire, discharge, and supervise the employees in his office. However, the board of commissioners must approve the appointment by such an officer of a relative by blood or marriage of nearer kinship than first cousin or of a person who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.”
Commissioner England said he would be willing to approve the hiring of the elder Banks to assist at the sheriff’s department.
“I would have to approve it,” he said. “I know he has the know-how to fill any position in the department.
England said the sheriff has not sought permission to hire relatives.
Banks did not respond to an email asking for comment about the hiring.