Hoke County to rehire employee fired for alleging payroll problems

A police officer guards an building in Raeford as state authorities search the offices of Hoke County's government in February. (David Hurst | CBS North Carolina)

RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) — Hoke County will reinstate the employee who reported payroll irregularities, sparking a State Bureau of Investigation investigation. The employee had initially been terminated.

The county called the move to fire the employee “shortsighted,” in a news release sent on its behalf by strategic communications firm Capstrat.

Instead, the employee will be put on administrative leave, with full pay and benefits, until the county’s independent investigation ends.

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In addition to person who reported the payroll problems, Hoke County Deputy Sheriff Dedrick Graham was also fired.

A human resources administrator, Latonya Benjamin, resigned, Capstrat said.

Also Wednesday, the firm announced for the county that Cherry Bekaert LLP, an accounting firm, has been hired to help with the county’s investigation. The company includes two former senior SBI special agents.

The county also hired a law firm, The Charleston Group, to assist.

“Hoke County has taken immediate steps to address the allegations giving rise to the SBI investigation and will do so in a fiscally responsible and transparent manner,” said Hoke County Commissioner Bobby Wright in the news release.

RELATED: SBI probe in Hoke County a ‘serious’ criminal investigation, sheriff says

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