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Audit reveals former SEANC director misspent nearly $500K

Posted April 12, 2015
Updated April 13, 2015

Dana Cope, on Feb. 10, 2015, announces his resignation as executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina. The move comes a day after Wake County's district attorney requested an "inquiry" into possible "spending irregularities" by the nonprofit.

— The former director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina misappropriated nearly $500,000 in credit card charges and unjustified spending, according to an audit released by the organization Saturday.

Dana Cope resigned in February after Wake County’s district attorney asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into spending irregularities at the 55,000-member nonprofit. The irregularities under question included a $19,000 check paid to a Washington, D.C., computer company that was reportedly cashed by an Apex landscaping company doing work at Cope’s Raleigh home.

The audit, conducted by national accounting firm Bond Beebe, found Cope “fabricated” the invoice for the $19,000 check, which was deposited by the landscaping company. The audit also found only about $14,000 paid to the company was legitimate, while another $94,500 in payments were “excessive.”

Other findings include:

  • Cope did not reimburse SEANC for nearly $15,000 in travel expenses for a trip to Asia taken by family members.
  • Cope used SEANC funds to buy more than $31,000 in private flying lessons.
  • Cope received about $17,200 in reimbursement for questionable charges or items missing receipts.
  • Cope used the SEANC credit card more than 2,000 times between October 2012 and Febreuary 2015 to charge nearly $405,000. Of that amount, about $361,000 was for questionable or undocumented items such as women’s accessories, car washes, online retail purchases, hotels, airlines, restaurants, iTunes and online gaming.

“The results of the audit are clear: Our former executive director, Mr. Dana Cope, grossly misused SEANC credit cards and misappropriated SEANC funds for personal gain,” current SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard wrote in a letter accompanying the audit summary.

“Based on my observations over the last few weeks and upon review of this audit report, these findings stem from a culture of submissiveness, deliberately built over time by Mr. Cope, and maintained for his own financial benefit. As a result, established financial controls were compromised, transparency thwarted and the truth denied,” he wrote.

Leonard wrote that SEANC is working to recoup the money and implement changes, including many of the recommendations made by Bond Beebe in the report.

The audit firm noted “consistent, broad and systematic internal control failures” because SEANC’s written policies and procedures were not followed.

Among the changes, no check can be issued without proper documentation, a credit limit of $5,000 has been set and credit card charges are allowed only for fuel and hotel expenses unless approved by a supervisor.

11 Comments

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  • Barbara Sossomon Apr 13, 2015
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    So, is something going to happen to the group of 12? Is there not a treasurer who has the responsibility of making sure that checks are correct? and cashed by who they are told to write them for?

  • George Herbert Apr 13, 2015
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    Seeing this article makes me glad I dropped my membership I SEANC a few years ago.

  • John Smith Apr 13, 2015
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    Awe c'mon... look back at the article from Feb 10th.
    'In a letter posted Monday on the SEANC website, the group's 12-member Executive Committee responded to the article, saying it found no wrongdoing on Cope's part.
    Why didn't they see any wrong doing? Because they're all cut from the same mold maybe?

  • Steve Faulkner Apr 13, 2015
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    And who would approve this for the director?

  • Madison Williams Apr 12, 2015
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    Yes, shame on you Mr. Cope and every other goober who thinks he's entitled to what rightly belongs to others. Every low life thief who is caught hopefully will face swift and harsh penalties. You should have known better!

  • Edward Levy Apr 12, 2015
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    OK you are right about the photo. He looks like he just sat on a dozen eggs and now feels the yolks starting to come through

  • Edward Levy Apr 12, 2015
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    Craig, I think you are correct. "misspent"? Me thinks not. "stole" methinks YES. Why the nicy-nice in the headline & first paragraph?

  • Christopher Rose Apr 12, 2015
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    On half a million he's gonna get some jail time. Another reason I stipulate that while I am a liberal I think Union dues should be voluntary. Membership really has no other way to affect change and keep the organization clean. Glad I wasn't forced to pay dues into that fund!

  • Jacob Smith Apr 12, 2015
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    "Cope used the SEANC credit card more than 2,000 times between October 2012 to Feb 2015 to charge nearly $405,000. Of that amount, about $361,000 were for questionable or undocumented items such as women’s accessories, car washes, online retail purchases, hotels, airlines, restaurants, iTunes and online gaming."

    WOW! Wish I had that credit card!

    Is it just me - or does the guy's pic look like - "Okay - ya' caught me!"?

  • Barbara Sossomon Apr 12, 2015
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    OH MY!!!! That is a LOT of money, that State Employees paid in fees to SEANC. SHAME ON HIM!!

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