Wake County DA to impanel grand jury for probe into $2.3M missing from Register of Deeds office

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman says she’ll impanel a grand jury and begin presenting evidence by the end of next month on what happened to the $2.3 million that went missing from the Register of Deeds office.

An audit showed the money went missing from 2008 to 2017.

The former Register of Deeds, Laura Riddick, retired in the spring citing health issues. She announced her retirement the same day the district attorney held a news conference to announce that the investigation was underway.

EARLIER: Audit: $2.3M missing from Wake County Register of Deeds office

The register of deeds is an elected position, which Riddick held for about 20 years. She did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday.

Investigators have not filed charges. Official documents obtained earlier this year by CBS North Carolina show a former employee, Troy Ellis III, admitted to taking $50,000.

Since the investigation began, the new register of deeds, Charles Gilliam, has changed cash-handling procedures in the office, including having more employees count the cash each day to verify the totals are accurate. Cash is counted five times by four different employees.

County commissioners got an update Tuesday on efforts to improve oversight of how employees handle cash.

More than 700 employees have undergone additional training. Former county manager Jim Hartmann also called for clearer policies on fraud and designating one or more employees at each cash depositing location to act a treasury contact. The county has hired an accounting firm, Elliott Davis, to analyze how the changes have been implemented at the county’s 107 cash collection sites. That work is supposed to be completed by June 2018.

“We have processes that are more stringent and thorough than we’ve ever had before as a county, and we are really looking to ferret out any potential problems,” said commissioner Matt Calabria. “In a county government of 4,000 people, you’ve got just things that happen. But, the thing we need to do as best we can is be prepared for the next thing that happens.”

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