Durham City Council member Monique Holsey-Hyman, who faced allegations of extortion and campaign finance violations in March, will not be facing state charges.
Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry, Law School ‘94 and Fuqua ‘06, announced Tuesday that the results of an investigation by the State Bureau of Intelligence found “no evidence” to support the allegations and “no probable cause to pursue charges.”
The original allegations surfaced when a property developer, later identified as Jarrod Edens, alleged that Holsey-Hyman had “solicited a campaign contribution from him to secure her ‘yes’ vote on annexation and rezoning applications” pending the Durham City Council’s decision.
SBI Special Agent N. Deming conducted the months-long investigation, and sent her report to Deberry on Friday. Deberry wrote that Deming “conducted interviews with City of Durham Mayor, Council Members and staff,” including Holsey-Hyman.
Edens, however, “avoided every attempt SA Deming made to interview him,” and later “showed no interest in either repeating or pursuing his initial allegations.”
Text messages between Holsey-Hyman and Edens were also reviewed by Deming, who “found nothing improper.”
Deming also investigated another allegation that a city staffer had engaged in campaign activity. Deming interviewed the employee implicated, who said they volunteered information to Holsey-Hyman without her direct or indirect request.
“Given the results of the SBI investigation, there is no probable cause to pursue charges against Council Member Holsey-Hyman,” she wrote. “In fact, the SBI was unable to discover any credible allegations against her at all.”
Some had also previously accused Mayor Pro Tempore Mark-Anthony Middleton for organizing a conspiracy against Holsey-Hyman, though the SBI investigation found “no evidence that there was a coordinated effort led by any other Council Member to initiate allegations against Holsey-Hyman.”
After the March 23 City Council meeting when the allegations were revealed to the public, a fight broke out between Councilwoman DeDreana Freeman, who works closely with Holsey-Hyman, and Middleton. Freeman, who is running for mayor, reportedly struck Councilman Leonardo Williams twice in the face and Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal once in the face.
In June, Holsey-Hyman, along with O’Neal and Freeman, instructed the city attorney to write to the Wikimedia Foundation and request they reveal the identities of three anonymous Wikipedia editors who had worked on their respective articles.
The request, which the Wikimedia Foundation denied, was seen as a pre-election attempt to clean up their Wikipedia articles that detailed the various allegations of misconduct.
“I really just can’t see any justification for an official directing the city attorney to send this letter. I just think it’s indefensible,” Stuart Benjamin, William Van Alstyne distinguished professor of law, told The News & Observer. “I understand why public officials do not want unflattering information published about them, but it is deeply troubling that any public official tried to unmask someone who posted this accurate information.”
Holsey-Hyman, a social work professor at North Carolina Central University, was appointed to her Council seat in May 2022, replacing former Council member Charlie Reece. She is currently running for election to the Durham City Council.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.