Spring Lake’s former finance director was arrested Friday by federal authorities and charged with embezzlement, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Gay Cameron Tucker, 63, of Fayetteville, is accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from Spring Lake during her tenure as finance director and accounting technician for the town, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. An indictment also accuses her of carrying out the embezzlement through fraudulent checks containing forged signatures of the mayor and town manager, the statement said.
COST TO RESIDENTS: How much has Spring Lake’s financial mishandling cost its residents?
U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said in the statement that city government officials are entrusted to spend taxpayer funds on public needs — not their own.
“Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners are committed to vigorously investigating all allegations of public corruption,” he said.
Tucker is charged with one count of embezzlement from a local government receiving federal funds, four counts of bank fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
A 56-page investigation report that was released by State Auditor Beth Wood in March found that the town’s former accounting technician, who also served as Spring Lake’s finance director for more than a year, used at least $430,112 of the town’s money for personal use. The report did not name the technician, but said in the footnotes that she served as the town’s finance director from March 2020 to April 2021 and as interim finance director from March 2020 to September 2020.
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Minutes of the town Board of Aldermen’s meetings show that Tucker served as finance director in February 2021 and was appointed interim finance director in March 2020.
The report recommended that the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen consider taking legal action against the former accounting technician. It accused the technician of writing 72 checks for her personal use.
The technician wrote 32 checks for a total of more than $16,000 that were payable to Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union and deposited into her personal bank account there, according to the report.
The report said 27 checks totaling more than $151,000 were made out as payable to the technician, with 24 deposited into her personal account and one deposited into her husband’s account at the credit union. Thirteen checks for a total of more than $113,000 were made payable to Heritage Place Senior Living and used to pay monthly resident bills of the technician’s husband, the report said.
The FBI is investigating the case, according to the statement. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is the prosecutor.
Local news editor Steve DeVane can be reached at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Former Spring Lake finance manager arrested, charged with embezzlement