Local Politics

Employee fired amid missing money probe in Wake deeds office

Posted May 2

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— An employee in the Wake County Register of Deeds Office was fired last month, days after the State Bureau of Investigation began looking into "substantial sums of money" missing from the office.

Troy Ellis, a technician at the office, was fired April 5 after he confessed to taking $50,000 within the last year, District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday.

Freeman said Ellis is cooperating with investigators and hasn’t yet been charged with a crime.

The deeds office handles millions of dollars in cash a year, and investigators are looking at transactions going back a decade to determine how much money was taken.

WRAL News has learned the missing money could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann said employees in the deeds office found "irregularities" in January as they were trying to improve cash-handling systems, so he brought in county auditors to go over the books. Freeman called in the SBI in late March.

Longtime Register of Deeds Laura Riddick resigned her position at about the same time, but Hartmann and Freeman said her departure was unrelated to the investigation. Riddick said she had a heart condition that necessitated surgery.

The Wake Board of Commissioners appointed Charles Gilliam, a former district judge, to succeed Riddick.

In addition to recording deeds and real estate transactions in Wake County, the office issues marriage licenses, birth and death certificates and new business filings.

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