State: Ex-Tarboro town manager used funds inappropriately - WSMV Channel 4

State: Ex-Tarboro town manager used funds inappropriately

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A 63-page report from the State Auditor’s Office says the former town manager of Tarboro used hundreds of thousands of dollars inappropriately, including spending on travel that were excessive and unnecessary.

The state auditor’s investigation determined that the former town manager “made nearly $366,000 of purchases over a six-year period that exceeded the scope of his duties and obtained over $87,000 for life insurance premiums without Town Council approval,” according to the report, which was released Tuesday. The report said the former town manager received nearly $85,000 in reimbursements for 455 trips "that may not have been necessary." The report questioned $7,000 in receipts from local restaurants. The report said the town manager charged boating supplies to the electric department even though the department doesn't have a boat.

The Rocky Mount Telegram has identified the former town manager as Sam Noble. Earlier this month, town attorney Chad Hinton told the paper that the town’s response was, “confidential until we get the final report from the state auditor.” The audit did not specifically name Noble, who retired in 2011. Noble, reached by the Associated Press Tuesday, refused to comment and referred questions to his attorney, Al Bell.  Bell told the AP that Noble "acted absolutely appropriately and in accordance with his duties as town manager."

The audit also said a former accounting clerk obtained more than $30,000 in unemployment benefits she may not have been eligible for and a former Electric Department director inappropriately received nearly $28,000 in reimbursements for his ex-wife’s health insurance.

The report said the town council didn’t oversee what has happening as well as it should have.

"Where were the council members?" State Auditor Beth Wood asked Tuesday. "Where were they? And, again, it would beg to ask the question, how many other counties or local governments, counties, cities, school boards, where you have this kind of thing going on?"

The report also said:

* a former accounting clerk may have violated state law by obtaining more than $30,000 in unemployment benefits for which she was not eligible.

* A former Electric Department director (current mayor Rick Page) inappropriately received almost $28,000 in reimbursements for his ex-wife’s health insurance.

The audit recommended that that the town should seek legal counsel for repayment of the life insurance premiums and “civil action for the former town manager’s imprudent use of town funds.”

Al Hull of the Tarboro Town Council told WNCN, "We'll get to the bottom of it. If something is wrong, I want it corrected."

Asked how the report reflects on Tarboro, Hull said, "It doesn't look good - doesn't look good."

The mayor declined to comment.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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