Report presented on Hoke County payroll investigation

An independent accounting firm gives a report to Hoke County leaders in mid May. Photo by Amy Cutler/CBS North Carolina

RAEFORD, N.C. (WNCN) — The investigation into Hoke County’s employees and payroll irregularities started about three months ago and Monday night the results of an internal investigation were presented.

The SBI raided a county office building back in February. Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said he asked the SBI to investigate after his office found evidence of impropriety.

In the days following that raid, county commissioners hired the Charleston Group and Cherry Bekaert to help them conduct an internal review.

Since then, a sheriff’s deputy has been fired and a human resources administrator resigned.

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The Charleston Group and Cherry Bekaert said the focus of their work was on the Sheriff’s Office and overtime by those employees. They told the crowd Monday night that the Sheriff and his office didn’t cooperate. The Sheriff’s Office uses paper timesheets to do its payroll.

After reviewing nearly 1,500 timesheets, they said they found 341 of them didn’t have proper justification for overtime. Another 18 of them were copies and 18 others were not properly authorized.

“People who process payroll and HR matters do it every day, so they should be intimately familiar with what a legitimate article looks like,” Scott McKay, Cherry Bekaert employee.

They also recommended that the timesheets of 34 employees be reviewed. They said all of them had more than 400 hours of overtime last year. They said 29 of them worked at the detention center, 5 with the Sheriff’s Office.

“We have requested that the District Attorney and the SBI take a look at those individuals,” R. Jonathan Charleston of the Charleston Group said.

“No one is trying to intimidate the sheriff, no one is trying to make him look like the bad guy. I want to make it clear as a county commissioner no one is going to steal from us,” Commissioner Allen Thomas, Jr. said.

Minutes after that presentation, Sheriff Peterkin held his own press conference. He defended his decision not to participate in the internal review.

“Do you think I want to trust evidence in a criminal case with a bunch of people who could take the stuff and manipulate it?” Peterkin said.

Peterkin repeatedly defended the overtime, saying he doesn’t have enough investigators or jailers.

He said he’s awaiting the results of the SBI investigation. When they’ll those results will be reported is still unclear.

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