State treasurer encourages N.C. residents to take part in National Unclaimed Property Day

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The now-former finance head of a small southeastern North Carolina town spent more than $11,000 in town funds on her home utility bills and other questionable items, according to a state audit released Wednesday.

State Auditor Beth Wood’s office said it found the ex-finance director of East Laurinburg, who is not named in the investigative report, wrote 13 checks of nearly $2,700 in 2017 and 2018 to pay electric and water bills at her home.

There was no documentation available to support over $8,500 in additional expenses involving 28 other checks and the town’s gas card, Wood’s office said.

Most of the checks were co-signed by a town commissioner who was the finance director’s mother, according to news outlets.

“I can’t tell you if she had receipts or not,” the audit quoted the commissioner as telling investigators, adding “(she) was in charge of that, and I just took it for granted that that’s what it was.”

The mayor of East Laurinburg — a Scotland County town of 300 with an annual budget of $75,000 — “indicated that ‘the commissioners have decided to pursue charges against the former finance officer,’” the audit said.

The audit also found that required annual financial audits had not been completed since the fiscal year ending in June 2016.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who also leads the Local Government Commission, said later Wednesday the General Assembly should pass a law to eliminate the town’s charter.

“There is no transparency, governance or audits of taxpayers’ money in the town of East Laurinburg,” Folwell said.

Copyright 2021, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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