Spring Lake City hired a financial director in 2020 without conducting an interview or seeking a resumption, although its background includes multiple bankruptcies, tax licenses, unpaid credit card bills and failed businesses. News and observers learned.
At the time, about 50 miles south of Riley, the city was already in financial trouble, with a 2016 audit by state investigators found that nearly $ 500,000 had been spent on purchases that were either questionable or It was a violation of their policies.
Now the NC’s second audit reports that the same finance director spent at least 30 430,112 for personal use, which has plunged the city into its financial hole.
The 2022 report from NC auditor Beat Woods does not name Guy Tucker, now 63, who was an accounting technician for Spring Line at the time of its promotion. But the job date and personal details in the report correspond to Tucker’s job in the Spring letter, and much of the news has pointed him out.
In 2020, the city board voted 3-2 to give her the responsibility of financing the spring letter and giving her a salary of 71 71,000. Mrs. Frederica Sutherland objected, saying that she had not spoken to Tucker and that Tucker had not applied or resumed the minutes of the meeting.
“I continue to stress that we have experienced people in our tax department,” Sutherland, who no longer sits on the board, told N&O this week. “We asked for her information, for her background, to evaluate her. Those who voted for her did not force them to do paperwork.”
The collision could not be reached by N&O through different phone numbers, emails or its listed address.
The government report and the spring letter minutes show that the city is unable to complete its audits on time, spends more than 1 1 million a year, keeps no record of its expenditures and sometimes does not mention formal meetings.
Immediately after Tucker left the city job – fired in 2021, the latest investigation said – the state Local Government Commission announced it would take over financial control of the Spring Line.
Woods’ investigation suggested the city should take legal action against its former accounting technician.
No charges have been filed against any of the employees since the 2016 Spring letter, but the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office told N&O on Thursday that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are now handling the case.
And on Thursday night, after leaders voted to appoint former Wick County Mayor Joe Durham as their interim town manager, members of the General Assembly met privately with newly elected mayor Kia Anthony.
“We are shocked and saddened by the response from state investigators and the LGC that are included in the report,” she said in a YouTube video last week, noting that all but one of the town’s aldermen are new. “As mayor, I want to assure you that Spring Lake City is stable and moving in the right direction.”
At Thursday’s meeting, Marvin Lucas, a longtime Democratic lawmaker and former mayor of the city, told reporters he did not know the details and had not spoken to Woods’ office.
“It’s not good to make accusations,” he said. “It’s not refundable.”
A difficult financial history
Spring Lake sits next to Fayetteville, its largest neighbor to the south, and Fort Bragg, a sprawling military outpost whose troops make up about 12,000 citizens.
The 2016 audit was triggered by reports of missing money and misuse of a shopping cart, forcing city officials to plan for better tracking of their spending.
The plan includes hiring a relatively new staff to monitor all of the town’s shopping card purchases – collision, still accounting technicians.
He will provide “day-to-day” monitoring of the purchase cards, ensuring that only those who are hired can use them, according to a city memo issued to a state inspector.
She should also provide a monthly report detailing the use of the shopping card that requires the approval of the city manager.
But by then, Tucker and her husband were facing significant financial problems, court records show.
Their Chapter 13 bankruptcy report reported zero household income and also showed that both the collision income and the family car were confiscated as payments to the state income tax.
Their total liabilities were approximately 150 150,000, stated in the bankruptcy case, including state and federal income tax and at least seven credit cards.
Chapter Thirteen Bankruptcy includes payments that lenders plan to repay. Although there are no records for the two previous files, it appears that at least one of them was cleared.
But in the 2014 crash case, she and her husband worked out a $ 667 monthly payment plan that their credentials quickly reported that they hadn’t seen. In 2015, a judge dismissed their bankruptcy case for non-compliance, and it is not clear what consequences to pursue.
The problem followed Guy Tucker to Spring Lake
As Tucker rose to become director of finance in the city administration, she began abusing her authority to quietly put $ 430,000 in the city’s pockets, a government audit found last week found.
A quarter of the money she paid for her husband’s expenses at a high-end center was reported in the bankruptcy case, which was more than 2,000 2,000 a month. Tucker wrote 13 checks for $ 113,015 from the city’s account to the top of the heritage site, according to the 2022 audit. She wrote a total of 72 checks for “personal use.”
Her role as finance director allowed her to write and sign city checks, the 2022 audit said.
Prior to her career at Spring Lake in 2016The state auditor signed a collision purchase card oversight and signed a number of other measures aimed at relying on the city’s poor spending practices, Chris Ray, then mayor, told N&O this week. .
The 2022 audit noted a lack of follow-up from the city’s 2016 audit.
“If the township follows the recommendations of the 2016 report, develop a detailed remedial action plan, including the estimated date of implementation and who is responsible for the remedial action, and ensure that the plan is in place and the city Follow-up by staff, the issues found in this investigation, especially what was repeated in the 2016 investigation, may not have happened, ”the audit report said.
Ray said city officials were unaware of the crash’s financial problems when they assigned her the task of overseeing shopping carts, but that role did not give her the power to abuse.
He said the officials who promoted her to the post of tax manager should first evaluate her.
Spring 2016 Audition
Ray said the costs identified in the 2016 audit were largely legal but lacked proper documentation. That included about 9 9,000 in travel and other expenses he had purchased.
He said the town found hundreds of expenses that lacked receipts or prior approvals, and found about 17 17,000 misappropriated by a handful of officials, all of whom either resigned or were fired.
Ray said the township has ordered them to return the money or the township will file charges.
Among those identified in the audit as having personal expenses with city money were the city manager, interim entertainment director and interim finance director.
“Because they repaid the money, we were satisfied based on their description of what the money was used for,” Ray told N&O.
The state auditor’s report said they had referred the 2016 findings on personal expenses to the SBI. But referrals do not automatically encourage an SBI investigation, and the SBI has not investigated the misappropriation, spokeswoman Enggrob wrote in an email to N&O.
“I thought it should have gone to the DA,” Sutherland, the ex-wife of Spring Line, told N&O this week. “No one has ever been prosecuted.”
The director said when he was elected mayor in 2011, he inherited serious problems in town management. Two years ago, two police officers were arrested on charges of forgery and other crimes. The municipal sheriff must take charge of the city police.
When he left in 2017, he said the agency did not follow the reforms introduced after the 2016 audit. Ray, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate seat in 2016, said he now works for a health care company in Phoenix, Arizona.
“At the end of the day, everything rises and falls with the leadership,” he said. “Unfortunately, the leadership before me did not do what they were supposed to do. I did what I should have been the leader of the city, and then the leadership after me did not do what they wanted.”
“I’m going to tell you, as a former mayor, it really hurts me to see what happened,” Ray said.
It is one of a series of ongoing stories about financial problems at Lake Spring.
The story was originally published March 25, 2022 1:45 PM.