State Treasurer, Chocowinity mayor comment on town clerk’s embezzlement arrest
Published 1:01 pm Friday, December 15, 2023
State of North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell, CPA said his department has been “concerned” about the situation in Chocowinity since former Town Clerk Joy McRoy’s employment was terminated on Aug. 3, 2023.
The situation being McRoy allegedly embezzling more than $500,000 over seven years.
Per a press release from the State Bureau of Investigation, McRoy was indicted on three Class C counts (over $100,000) and five Class F counts (less than $100,00) of embezzlement by a public officer or employee. It was alleged that from 2015 to 2022, McRoy inflated her payroll and used town credit cards for personal purchases.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, McRoy turned herself in at the Beaufort County Detention Center. She went before a magistrate and was issued a $100,000 secured bond and booked at the jail. McRoy posted bond the same day, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
If McRoy is convicted of embezzlement, then the Retirement Systems Division of the Department of State Treasurer will pursue felony forfeiture which means they could take her pension away from the time she may be convicted. Felony forfeitures occur when a person is either indicted or convicted of embezzlement or a sex crime.
Because McRoy may have embezzled for seven years, seven years of service would be removed from her eligibility to receive a pension if she is convicted.
“We unfortunately have to use that almost every month across the state,” Folwell said about using felony forfeiture.
A similar case happened in Spring Lake in September of 2022 when the town’s former Finance Director, Gay Cameron Tucker, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement from a local government receiving federal funds and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Tucker embezzled $567,070 from the Town of Spring Lake between 2016 and 2021. Tucker was sentenced to four years in prison.
Speaking about the Town of Chocowinity, Folwell said, the department intends to “hold that city accountable” and intends “when a conviction is forthcoming to fully exercise the felony forfeiture law.”
Folwell mentioned the Town of Chocowinity was at least two years behind on its audits.
Amanda, Sasnett, Town of Chocowinity’s attorney, confirmed this in an email to the Daily News saying the town has contracted with an outside accounting firm to do a “comprehensive review” of the town’s financial records to “ensure accuracy.” The audit process is expected to resume early next year and will put the Town in compliance with audit requirements from the state treasurer.
The independent audit will then be inspected by the Local Government Commission.
The Local Government Commission resides within the Department of State Treasurer to, in part, inspect annual independent auditing of local governments, track a local government’s fiscal stability and offer local governments assistance with financial administration.
They offer specific tools for more than 1,100 municipalities to use that cover a “variety of topics including annual budgets, internal controls, debt management, and pension and Other Post Employment Benefits reporting,” per the commission’s webpage.
On Oct. 5, 2021, the Local Government Commission assumed control of the Town of Spring Lake’s financial affairs two weeks after Tucker pled guilty to embezzlement and aggravated identity theft. Sasnett shared that the commission has given no indication they would do the same in Chocowinity. She continued to write that the town contacted the commission in July of 2022 to notify them of initial findings.
What those initial findings were has not been released. The Town and Board are limited as to what they can disclose.
Folwell sympathized with Chocowinity residents, saying, “I’m sorry that this has happened to the community of Chocowinity…Nothing chaps the taxpayers more than to have someone embezzling money from them while they’re earning a pension credit.”
Mayor of Chocowinity, Jimmy Mobley, told the Daily News, “we’re sorry that it happened. It is unfortunate. Wished it hadn’t happened.” He would like residents to know that “the problem has been resolved” and that “going forward” the town has “more precautions in place.”
Sasnett echoed Mobley’s comment writing, “Town and its Board have in place policies and procedures which promote efficiency in providing government services to its residents and safeguards the funds necessary to provide those services. It is of equal importance to the Town and its Board that they act in accordance with the law and recommendations from legal authorities and administrative agencies to make sure these policies and procedures are followed,”
“The Town retained an independent accounting firm to review its financial records and cooperated with investigations by local law enforcement and the State Bureau of Investigation. The Town is open and transparent in its regular communications with agencies, including the Local Government Commission, and the Town has continuously provided services to its residents without interruption. The Town is confident this will continue. There should be no impact on the day-to-day lives of our residents.”