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ALE director asks for demotion

ASHEVILLE (AP) — The director of the N.C. Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement has asked for a demotion ahead of the incoming Republican administration.

Outgoing department secretary Reuben Young approved John Ledford’s request to return to Asheville as an agent starting Jan. 1, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.

Ledford, a former Madison County sheriff, was appointed by Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue after his predecessor retired following a scandal involving missing guns and questionable spending.

With about 100 full-time agents, the agency’s primary responsibility is to enforce state laws on the purchase and sale of alcoholic beverages. During Ledford’s three-year tenure, ALE expanded into enforcement activities including a SWAT-like unit that serves high-risk warrants and chases fugitives.

Agency officials said Ledford knew Gov.-elect Pat McCrory would want his own director and voluntarily stepped aside.

“He wanted to clear the way for them to go ahead and make an appointment and put someone in for the good of the agency,” said Allen Page, Ledford’s deputy director, adding that agency morale had improved during Ledford’s time at its helm.

Page has also asked to be reassigned and will be returning to Asheville as the district’s special agent in charge. Ledford will now be reporting to him.

Earlier this year, the state auditor issued a critical report saying Ledford blocked its investigation into what it said was misuse of his state car and improper record keeping.

The blistering 14-page audit report also said Ledford repeatedly tried to block the investigation and ordered his subordinates not to talk or provide requested records. State regulations forbid employees to use state cars for commuting or other personal travel.

Ledford insisted he only used the car on state business, even though it coincided with trips home to the mountains from Raleigh.

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