Local News

Franklin County Commissioner Accused Of Profiting Over Gift Of Land

Posted May 27, 2002

— A piece of land was supposed to be a gift donated to Franklin County so taxpayers could benefit. Instead, residents claim a longtime county leader benefited by taking over the property and selling it for himself.

The property in question, Lot 385 in Franklin County's Lake Royale subdivision, sits on a quiet road, but its controversial past resonates loudly. For months, the

Franklin Times

and a group of residents have questioned how Commissioner Tommy Wynne got his hands on the deed for the land.

A house now stands on the property as it changed ownership over the years, but it was back in 1994 when Wynne first acquired the property by paying off the back taxes of over $100. He then turned around and sold it for a personal profit of over $7,000.

Gil Silva started looking over land deeds last year and found Lot 385 was supposed to be donated to the county by the Bible Broadcasting Network in Charlotte. Instead, without any evidence of public advertisement or auction, Wynne's name ended up on the paper.

"It is a slap in the face to people in this county. They feel like they're stealth, untouchable. Well, that's wrong," he said.

WRAL was unable to contact the commissioner about this story, but in a letter to the

Times

, he apologized, claiming he never intended to do anything wrong. He also promised to pay the money back. However, seven months later, that has not happened.

"There's always a tendency in small-town politics that the law applies to someone else, but not me," resident Grady Macon said.

Silva believes that this case could be just the tip of the iceberg. He claims that he has uncovered 27 other land deals involving Franklin County leaders that he considers suspicious. So far, Lot 385 is the only case under investigation.

While some residents are calling for Wynne's resignation, he has said he welcomes an investigation and recently filed papers to run for re-election.

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