Local Politics

Former Wake employee's expense records go to DA

Posted July 25, 2008

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— Wake County Manager David Cooke turned over a former employee's county credit card records to the district attorney's office Friday.

In a letter to Assistant District Attorney Howard J. Cummings, Cooke wrote that former recycling coordinator Craig Wittig's work-related expenses from April 2006 until April 2008 totaled $37,350.46.

"As stated earlier, we are interested in options that the county has to recover funds or property or take other legal action in this matter," Cooke wrote to Cummings.

Wittig was fired June 3 from the county's Solid Waste Management Division after an internal review raised questions about travel expenses involving 46 trips since he was hired in 2006.

Wittig has said that each trip – to destinations such as Disney World and Las Vegas and the coast of Maine for whale watching – were to research environmental programs in other parts of the country so that Wake County could develop a state-of-the art recycling program.

The county considers more than $19,000 questionable and nearly $10,000 recoverable.

Because the trips were approved, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said earlier this month, it is still unclear if the case could rise to a criminal level.

"The difference between fraud and bad stewardship often is in someone's intent – whether or not there is a misrepresentation or deceit in what they were doing," Willoughby said.

Earlier this month, solid waste facilities manager Jim Reynolds resigned after being on administrative leave in the wake of the discovery. Receipts show he signed off on most of the trips Wittig took.

County officials are trying to determine who else might have known about the trips.

In response to the discovery, the Wake County Board of Commissioners ordered an audit of all county departments for the past year and the Environmental Services Department for the past two years.

The commissioners are also looking for ways to increase public trust about county spending, including one suggestion to put expense reports online for the public to see.

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  • 1WakeCitizen Jul 28, 2008

    get rid of that human services director - rajano - while they are cleaning house. that man doesn't know anything about human services - except how to be rude to staff and tear the department apart. LEAVE Ramano - no one wants you.

  • discowhale Jul 28, 2008

    "The difference between fraud and bad stewardship often is in someone's intent – whether or not there is a misrepresentation or deceit in what they were doing,"
    .
    HUH?
    .
    How do they find this out? Is someone in the DA's office going to do the Vulcan Mind Meld? If his supervisors signed off on these expenditures, repeatedly, over a 2 year period, without questioning the costs, they are the ones who should pay.

    Maybe I'm old fashioned, but back when I was a SUPERVISOR, my job was to SUPERVISE. I was responsible for controlling my staff and operating costs within my group. I wish I'd worked for Wake County, I would have been off the hook for any responsibilities when the fit hit the shan.

  • Rolling Along Jul 25, 2008

    Smitty,
    It must be in the WRAL Atlas...it sure isn't in mine. ;-)

  • superman Jul 25, 2008

    What a shame Wake County cant control their employee spending and want to put the infor out on the internet so the public can see. Just what do they think I can do to control their spendiing? They reevaluated the property and I got a nice big increase in my tax bill-- they didnt pay any attention to my wishes. I think all the county commissioners should resign-- hope they read this and follow my instructions and do it on Monday.

  • alwayslovingu30 Jul 25, 2008

    Is governor easy being investigated for tossing away tax dollars
    He an his wife should be fired an or repramanded an made to pay back tax dollars wasted by them why is easys wife getting A 88%increase in her pay an other state workers R still left behind
    something is A miss here

  • smitty Jul 25, 2008

    Coast of Main? Where is that?

  • Tax Man Jul 25, 2008

    I like the idea of online expense reports for each expenditure of our tax money - also need that for all government departments from the city, county, state and federal. I would really like to see how our elected officials truly represent us.