Local News

Ex-Cumberland deputy indicted on fraud charges

Posted December 16, 2009

— A Cumberland County grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former deputy on dozens of fraud charges.

Neelis Smith, who was fired from the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office in March 2008, was indicted on 60 counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler fired Smith and LaRue Windham for falsifying time sheets. The deputies billed outside vendors for security jobs they claimed to have worked, although they were on the clock for the sheriff's office at the time, authorities said.

The allegations of double-dipping prompted Butler to order a department-wide audit to check for any abuse of off-duty jobs.

The department's internal auditor reviewed more than 5,000 time sheets with 69,000 entries, covering the activities of 192 deputies from January 2007 to February 2008.

The records of four deputies were turned over to prosecutors, but no criminal charges were filed.


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  • Mongoose Dec 17, 2009

    They indicted the student they need to indict the teacher or master of deception he is the one who has been involved in those type of activities for many years ever since 1997. And on 09-16-1997 a former Lieutenant informed the Sheriff reference similar type of activities by this individual. There was nothing done about that during that time. However over the next years the former Lieutenant suffered the consequences. He attempted to received assistance from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and from a NC Senator reference the treatment he ended up receiving due to his revealing of that information to the Sheriff. The ongoing improper treatment was indirectly caused by the second person in Charge at that time and lasted until 2002. So I can see why the Lieutenant who was in charge of the off duty @ Crown Coliseum ended doing what he did.

  • Liberal Lion Dec 16, 2009

    Sheriff Moose Butler asked the Cumberland County attorney to review a personnel complaint at least a week before a father-and-son pair of top deputies left and another deputy was put on leave.

    On Feb 19, Capt. LaRue Windham announced his resignation without explanation. Windham’s father, Chief Deputy Cuyler Windham, said Thursday he would retire from his post as second in command at the Sheriff’s Office. He said his decision had nothing to do with his son’s resignation.

    And on Friday, Lt. Neelis Smith, the deputy in charge of assigning security to school events, was put on paid leave pending an investigation. LaRue Windham had been Smith’s supervisor.

    A Fayetteville Observer review of school records revealed that Smith was paid more than $75,000 by the schools to work events since 2005. On some occasions, records show, Smith was paid for working security at three or four games in different parts of the county on the same evening.

  • Liberal Lion Dec 16, 2009

    Just to think this story does not happen if Larue Jr was not so greedy.
    Windham Jr. threatened and harassed a Lieutenant who was in charge of of off duty @ Crown Coliseum. The Lt. fed up walked over to courthouse to see who? He went to speak to the COUNTY ATTY. He did not go to the Sheriff’s leagal advisor, the Chief Deputy Larue Windham Sr. ( Jr’s father) or the Sheriff. The reason why he had no faith in that process and seen what happened to former Lt. Fred Petty, demoted to Sargeant and later not rehired in after the 2002 election. The Lt. went to the late County Atty. Grainger Barrett, who brought this to the Sheriff’s attention. The Lt. does
    not get a pat on the back under the whistleblower act in my opinion,because I don’t think does anything if greedy Windham was not trying to squeeze him out of his off duty jobs.

  • djcgriffin Dec 16, 2009

    Why were there no charges filed on the other deputies' timesheets that were obtained?

  • Liberal Lion Dec 16, 2009

    Okay, first, this would not have happened if it was not for the efforts of the
    Fayetteville Observer’s John Ramsey.

    Sheriff Butler wanted to bury his head in the sand and John took the time and played detective, because Sheriff Butler refused to do that.

    If Larue Windham Jr. is not indicted it will be becuase of Windham’s Sr. connections, as he is a former FBI agent.

    Sheriff Butler was told as early as 1998 that Larue Windham Jr. was dirty, but he ignored it becuase Sr. was his no. 2 man in the Sheriff’s Office.

    Remember in the summer of 2008 Sheriff Spokesperson Debbie Tanna threatened a Oberserver reporter with arrest for trying to seek public information.

    I feel sorry for the two former deputies wives and kids, because they are going to suffer for their actions at christmas time, but I don’t feel sorry for the theiving deputies.

    Just think, Sheriff Butler was going to let Jr. retire w/ 20yrs. if not for John finding out and exposing this, making the Sheriff change cour

  • ranquick Dec 16, 2009

    if there is one crook in department you can look and find more beginning with the higher ups, you can bet your beppie they knew and know what is going on, how could they NOT know

  • Liberal Lion Dec 16, 2009

    Hopefully they will indict the crooke Captain Larue Windham as well.