Tarboro NC – Carl Benson Damn This Is What I Read When Comes To Sam Nobles Former Tarboro Town Manager Allegations Of Use Of Town Funds

The following is the reason why you need to attend the Tarboro Town Council meeting on Monday August 11, 2014 7:00 PM.

Carl said: “Withhold judgment on Tarboro until investigations are completed”

I didn’t make this mess up read it for yourself on The NC Auditor’s Website

Most folks do not want to read lots of material so I am gonna help you out just a little bit. I pulled out some pages from the 63 page report as it pertains to Sam. Damn sure don’t look good to me. Read the report for yourself and base your opinion on the facts as presented and not on emotions.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PURPOSE
The Office of the State Auditor received an allegation from the Tarboro Town Council concerning the former Town Manager’s use of town funds for questionable purchases.

BACKGROUND
The Town of Tarboro (Town) operates under a Council-Manager form of government with a mayor and eight Town Council members elected at-large on a non-partisan basis to four-year terms. The town manager is the chief administrator of the Town and serves at the pleasure of the Town Council.

KEY FINDINGS

Over a six-year period, the former Town Manager made nearly $366,000 of purchases that exceeded the scope of his duties.

The former Town Manager obtained more than $87,000 for universal life insurance premiums without Town Council approval.

• A former accounting clerk (who left her job voluntarily) 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) inappropriately received almost $28,000 in reimbursements for his ex-wife’s health insurance.

• The Town Council failed to adequately oversee town operations to ensure accountability.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

• The Town should seek legal counsel regarding repayment of unauthorized life insurance premiums and civil action for the former Town Manager’s imprudent use of town funds.

• The Town Council should review the town manager’s performance, including an analysis of expenses, on a regular basis.

• The North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security should determine whether the clerk violated state law by improperly obtaining unemployment benefits.

• The Town should require the former Electric Department Director (current Mayor) to repay misrepresented reimbursements for his ex-wife’s health insurance.

NOTE

• Findings were referred to the State Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the North Carolina Department of Revenue, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security for legal disposition as applicable.

The key findings and recommendations in this summary may not be inclusive of all the findings and recommendations in the report.

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

1. FORMER TOWN MANAGER OBTAINED UNAUTHORIZED LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS AND MADE QUESTIONABLE PURCHASES

The former Town Manager received reimbursements that violated the Town of Tarboro’s (Town) purchasing policies and exceeded the scope of his duties. He received $87,043.41 in reimbursements for a universal life insurance policy purchased without Town Council approval. In addition, the former Town Manager received reimbursements totaling $365,629.24 over a six-year period for supplies, equipment, travel, and meals which may not have been necessary.

Former Town Manager Made Life Insurance Policy Changes without Approval
Without documented approval from the Town Council, the former Town Manager made multiple changes to his town-provided life insurance policy from 1996 through 2011. He converted his life insurance policy from whole life to universal life and increased the annual premium cost to the Town from $1,251 to $9,000. He also increased the policy’s death benefit from $116,787 to $300,000 and increased the policy’s cash value to $91,797 as of February 27, 2014.

In 1988, the former Town Manager received a town-provided whole life insurance policy as part of his benefits package. The annual premium cost to the Town was $1,251. The death benefit was $116,787 which complied with the Town Council approved death benefit limit of 2.5 times his annual salary.2

Then in July 1996, without documented approval, the former Town Manager converted his town-furnished whole life insurance policy to a universal life insurance policy. The universal life insurance policy included a provision that allowed him to make additional premium payments that increased the policy’s cash value. The new universal life premium payment was $3,903 with a death benefit of $250,000, approximately 3.22 times his annual salary, exceeding the approved amount.

In July 2006, again without documented approval, the former Town Manager increased the insurance death benefit to $300,000 (2.86 times annual salary) and increased the annual premium payments to $5,500.

The former Town Manager later increased the premium payments two more times which increased the policy’s cash value. He increased the annual premium payment to $8,101 in July 2007 and then to $9,000 in August 2010, four months before his retirement.3 His final payment in April 2011 was reimbursed by the Town three months earlier than due.
This final payment covered a 12-month period after his employment with the Town ended.

2 A memorandum of understanding dated July 19, 1988, specified, “The Town will provide and pay for a whole life insurance policy on your life, having a value of $116,787 and a premium of $1,251.24 per year. The beneficiary of the policy shall be designated by you. It is understood that this represents a portion of your annual salary for FY 1988-89 and thereafter.”
3 The former Town Manager retired December 31, 2010. He continued to work for the Town on an interim basis until July 31, 2011.

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The former Town Manager also received untaxed benefits as a result of the unauthorized changes to the town-provided life insurance policy. The initial life insurance benefit was part of his compensation package with the annual premium included directly in his salary. Even though the former Town Manager’s annual salary already included this benefit, he submitted and received reimbursements from the Town for additional insurance premium payments that he made from 1996 through 2011 totaling $87,043, which was untaxed. The additional premium payments increased the insurance policy’s cash value. Because the policy’s cash value earned interest, the former Town Manager accumulated a total of $91,797 in unauthorized benefits.

There was no available documentation to indicate that the Town Council approved any adjustments or deviations from the initial approved life insurance benefit to the former Town Manager or from the method of simply including the premium payment in the former Town Manager’s salary. The former Town Manager’s attorney said that he could furnish documentation to show that the policy was properly approved, but he never provided that documentation.

Additionally, none of the Town Council members recalled approving any adjustments or deviations. All past and current Council members interviewed said they were unfamiliar with the insurance policy and did not recall ever seeing it. One current Council member said, “I never voted on approving anything other than that standard life insurance policy that was in his contract.”

Former Town Manager Made Questionable Purchases and Violated Purchasing Policies
The former Town Manager used town funds to pay for equipment, travel, and meals that were either for personal use, had a questionable connection to the Town’s business operations, or were unnecessary. The former Town Manager regularly failed to comply with town purchasing policies.

Unnecessary Equipment Purchases
Between July 2006 and July 2011, the former Town Manager was reimbursed by the Town for more than $220,000 in equipment purchases. Many of the items did not appear to relate to his job as a town administrator.

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Table 1 lists some of the vendors from which the former Town Manager purchased items and for which he was reimbursed by the Town.
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The items purchased include shirts, coolers, gun holsters, life vests, flashlights, helmets, wetsuits, marine equipment and jackets. (See Appendices B and C) The former Town Manager also purchased police equipment – including handguns – that was not necessary to perform his duties. (See Appendix D)

A former police chief said there was no reason the former Town Manager needed all the police equipment and clothing. According to the former Town Manager, he liked to participate with the police department and needed the same supplies. According to the former Town Manager’s job description, his duties were to “observe departmental activities to assess operational efficiency,” not participate as a law enforcement officer. Most of the items were not used by the Town’s police department because they were in the former Town Manager’s possession (See Appendix B, Images 4 through 8).

Most purchases made by the former Town Manager were charged to other departments’ budgets, which limited them from purchasing needed items. For example, he purchased $394 of boating supplies from Boater’s World and charged it to the electric department although interviews with electric department employees revealed that the department did not have a boat.4 According to a former department head, prior to making any purchases for his department, he would check his department’s account to see how much remained because the former Town Manager would often deplete its funds.

4 One of the items listed in the reimbursement was an Easy Lift Trailer Jack Aluminum. The former Town Manager returned this item after he retired with his name written on it in numerous places. (See Appendix B, Image 2)

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

After his retirement, the former Town Manager returned to the Town many of the items he purchased using town funds. Many items had been shipped to his residence and had his name on them instead of the name of the Town. The Town Manager said that he put his name on the items to deter people from stealing. However, items purchased by the former Town Manager on behalf of and used by the departments did not have his name written on them.

Unnecessary Travel and Meals
An analysis of the former Town Manager’s reimbursements showed that over a five-year period he received nearly $85,000 in reimbursements for 455 trips that may not have been necessary. In addition, he received $7,000 in reimbursements for 289 potentially unnecessary meals at local restaurants in Tarboro during the same period.

The former Town Manager added to the unnecessary costs by taking employees or council members with him on his trips. Former employees said he did not like to travel alone. Most trips were taken during business hours, resulting in lost production time by the employees and the former Town Manager. Meals during these trips resulted in additional costs.

Between 2006 and 2011, the former Town Manager was reimbursed more than $11,500 in mileage to “deliver brochures” and to “view” or “purchase equipment.” On numerous occasions, the former Town Manager traveled on consecutive days to review, purchase, or return equipment, according to his explanations on the expense reimbursement forms. Some of the items purchased on consecutive days were from retail stores such as Boater’s World, Best Buy, and Sears Auto Center.

On numerous occasions, the former Town Manager received reimbursements for travel to Virginia for questionable purposes. A trip to Norfolk was labeled as “purchase equipment.” However, the current Mayor, who accompanied the former Town Manager on that trip, said, “I am not sure what the purpose of the trip was… [The former Town Manager] would buy socks or gloves…a lot of it probably didn’t make sense…” A former police chief said he traveled with the former Town Manager to Virginia to buy a gift card at Bass Pro Shops for an employee who was retiring. The former Town Manager characterized that trip as “Meeting–Employee Retention.” The cost of the gift card and the associated travel to Virginia totaled $429.

Several in-state trips also resulted in expense reimbursements that appeared unnecessary. In June 2010, the former Town Manager, current Mayor, former Mayor, and a Council member spent $212 on dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s while attending a meeting in Raleigh. Fourteen days later, the same group spent $176 at 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. The next month, the former Town Manager, current Mayor, and a former police chief traveled to Fayetteville. They spent $586 at a military clothing store and $122 for lunch.

The current Mayor said that there was no real business need for meals reimbursed in Tarboro. Explanations on reimbursement forms for meals in Tarboro included, “Dinner after Council Meetings,” “Dinner with Mayor and Council,” or “lunch meeting.” Several former employees said these meetings could have been held in the office.

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Violation of Town’s Purchasing Policies
The former Town Manager violated town policy by never using a purchase order prior to making purchases. Town procedures required the use of purchase orders for those purchases that did not require a bid. Only in emergency situations or when a company did not accept purchase orders would departments purchase items without a purchase order.

The former Town Manager had a town credit card but preferred to use his personal credit card for routine town purchases, according to a former town department head. The former department head said the former Town Manager used his personal credit card to accumulate rewards points. In contrast to the former Town Manager’s practices, multiple department heads said that they submitted purchase orders for normal purchases and used the Town’s credit card for emergency purchases.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Town of Tarboro should seek legal counsel regarding repayment of the unapproved life insurance premiums. In addition, town officials should determine whether the Town incurred any liability by not reporting insurance benefits to the Internal Revenue Service as well as the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

The Town of Tarboro should seek legal counsel regarding potential civil action concerning the former Town Manager’s imprudent use of public resources.

The Town of Tarboro should implement controls to ensure reimbursements are necessary and for legitimate business purposes.

The Town of Tarboro should establish and execute purchasing and travel procedures consistently for all employees.

The Town Council should review and analyze the expenditures of the Town Manager on a regular basis.

NOTE: Life insurance policy information referred to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to determine if there is sufficient evidence to pursue actions criminally related to misappropriation of public funds or malfeasance related to the former Town Manager’s employment. This finding has also been referred to the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service.

2. FORMER ACCOUNTING CLERK IMPROPERLY OBTAINED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
A former Office Assistant in the accounting department (Clerk) may have violated state law by obtaining $30,030 in unemployment benefits for which she was not eligible.

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Sam Nobles

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Tarboro NC – Democratic Women of Edgecombe County Featuring Brenda Cleary For Congress 13th District Monday August 18, 2014 6 PM

DEMOCRATIC WOMEN OF EDGECOMBE COUNTY is having our monthly meeting Monday 18th @ 6pm, at the Admin building here in Tarboro. We will have a speaker attending, Brenda Cleary running for 13th District. George Holding is currently holding this position (redistricting has split the County). We are inviting the public to attend and looking for people who are interested in joining our organization. Just a reminder…don’t forget to attend the Town Council meeting Monday, August 11th at 6pm. Get involved and stay in touch with what’s happening in your community, town and the world.