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Audit: Tarboro workers obtained improper benefits

Posted July 22, 2014

— The current mayor of Tarboro, a former town manager and a former clerk obtained more than $500,000 combined in improper benefits, from state unemployment checks to insurance coverage to personal expenses, according to a state audit released Tuesday.

Auditors recommended that Tarboro and state officials seek repayment of misused funds and determine whether any civil or criminal actions need to be pursued, and the audit's findings were turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and other authorities.

Sam Noble, who retired in 2011 as town manager, rang up about $101,000 in questionable purchases, such as shirts, coolers, handguns, gun holsters, life vests, flashlights, helmets, wetsuits, marine equipment and jackets, the audit states. Most of the items were charged to the budget's of various town departments although they didn't need the items.

Many items were shipped to his home address, and he returned them to the town after his retirement, according to the audit.

Noble also received about $92,000 in reimbursements over a five-year period for trips and meals that auditors deemed questionable or unnecessary. Mayor Rick Page accompanied Noble on one trip to Norfolk, Va., and told auditors, “I am not sure what the purpose of the trip was... a lot of it probably didn’t make sense."

Some of the meals were with Town Council members after council meetings, according to the audit.

Noble also, without Town Council approval, converted his town-purchased life insurance policy to universal life coverage, upped the death benefit and increased the annual premiums, which also increased the cash value of the policy, according to the audit. He billed the town to reimburse him for the changes, which auditors determined led to more than $87,000 in untaxed benefits because the insurance policy was part of his compensation package.

The audit also notes that Page, when he served as director of Tarboro's electric department, turned in reimbursements for health coverage totaling more than $27,000, stating the coverage was for him when it was actually for his ex-wife.

Also, a former accounting clerk, who wasn't identified, received more than $30,000 in unemployment benefits after quitting her job voluntarily in 2010, according to the audit.

Auditors said the Tarboro Town Council needs stricter oversight of its town manager's purchases and activities, reviewing his performance on a regular basis. The council also should adopt ordinances prohibiting town workers from accepting gifts from the manager or having informal meetings with the manager over dinner before and after council meetings.


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  • Maureen Mercer Jul 23, 2014
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    They all need to pay back all money and have loss of benefits. I would have them cleaning sewers for community service.

  • Ronnie Merritt Jul 22, 2014
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    No corruption to see here, move along please...

  • disgusted2010 Jul 22, 2014

    Will be interesting to see what becomes of the SBI investigation as this is in Roy Cooper's backyard.

  • Holly Atkins Jul 22, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    Read teh Audit...page 10. The HR Department falsified documents to ESC and therefore she received unemployment under false pretenses.

    Tarboro is in the wrong.

  • David Collins Jul 22, 2014
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    All the money should be paid and push for max jail time.

  • Russ Mason Jul 22, 2014
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    Do ya reckon Mr. Noble felt he was "entitled" to these things?

  • itsnotmeiswear Jul 22, 2014

    I can't see how they would have any right to pursue the accounting clerk. The ESC would have sent the town a letter to determine the nature of the termination. If the town didn't reply or contest the determination of benefits, she will get the money. This is often done when somebody is given the option to resign "quietly" or be fired.