Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday after allegedly discussing killing a former deputy who he believed possessed an audio recording of him using "racially insensitive language."
A grand jury indicted Wilkins on two felony counts of obstruction of justice for advising and failing to arrest a man with whom he had allegedly discussed details of a murder plot against deputy Joshua Freeman.
The plot was never carried out, and the supposed racially insensitive recording has not been found.
A joint investigation was carried out by the FBI and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation along with Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.
"I thought it was important for there to be some effort to get to what would motivate individuals involved in being recorded in this conversation to discuss plans to kill someone else," Freeman told Durham ABC station WTVD. "That became the subject of this investigation and yesterday the Grand Jury of Granville County returned indictments against the sheriff arising out of this recording for obstruction of justice."
In a call from August 2014, Brindell was told by the unnamed person when and where he planned to carry out the killing, and Wilkens allegedly offered the man advice on how to get away with the murder.
"The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing," Wilkins allegedly said, according to the indictment.
It’s unclear what "racially insensitive" language Brindell believed was on the tape that he was so fearful would be released. His office is also facing a second investigation from the district attorney over "accounting practices and controlled substance interdiction efforts."
Wilkins was released on $20,000 bond Monday after appearing before a Granville County judge. He is technically not barred from continuing to serve as sheriff while the case is ongoing, according to Freeman.
His first court date isn't until Oct. 9, though, so the Granville County Board of Commissioners could vote to remove him from office.
He was ordered to surrender his passport and have no contact with the people involved in the case as part of the conditions of his release.
"It is something the public has a right to have diligently reviewed," Freeman said. "No one is above the law."
ABC News' Mark Osborne contributed to this report.