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State investigates allegations of corruption in Harnett utilities

Posted October 21, 2011
Updated October 22, 2011

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— The North Carolina Attorney General's Office has been called in to review allegations of corruption in Harnett County's Department of Public Utilities.

The allegations were made in January by a fired county employee and have split the Harnett County Board of Commissioners and led to tension and rampant rumors among area residents.

"We have nothing to hide, and we want to get all the facts out to the public," said Tim McNeill, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Randy Rogers said he was fired as a right-of-way agent for the utilities department because he tried to blow the whistle on corruption in the department, including rigged bids on water and sewer projects and shortcuts on easement purchases and environmental permits.

"Sometimes a man or a woman, in his (or her) life, has to take a stand. This was one of those times I had to take a stand," Rogers said Friday. "It's placed a hardship on my family and myself."

Critics say Rogers was fired for doing a poor job, but he said he collected documents and made secret audio recordings to support his allegations. Although he was guarded with the information he provided to WRAL News, on the advice of his attorney, he said county officials removed a flash drive that contained the recordings from his jacket pocket and have refused to return it.

Steve Ward, director of the utilities department, denies any wrongdoing, but he declined to rebut specifics of Rogers' allegations.

Harnett County water tower Corruption allegations split Harnett commissioners

Rogers' story won the support of Commissioner Gary House, but House clashed with other commissioners who believed only that Rogers was bitter over his termination.

"This needs to be brought out to the public," House said. "It's been very divisive. (The board) tried to sweep it under the rug."

The board hired Poyner & Spruill, one of North Carolina's largest and most politically connected law firms, to look into Rogers' allegations. The law firm's report is being reviewed by the Attorney General's Office, and the county won't release details of the report.

"We will release all information at some point in time that has been accumulated," McNeill said. "We're relying on the attorney general and his office on when that can be done."

Commissioners also have asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to review the law firm's report, but federal prosecutors haven't yet agreed to do so.

Rogers said he is weighing whether to sue the county over his firing.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • JusticewillbeServed Oct 27, 2011

    I think Glenn McFadden should file a grievance against the President of the United States for having to pay income tax. That is in essences the same as filing one against a County Commissioner, he is not hired by the County Manger, he is elected by the people, to be their voice. I wonder what kind of information or "public information" request have not been fulfilled yet, accusing someone of harassment is an attempt to stop information from being obtained and questions being answered.

  • JusticewillbeServed Oct 27, 2011

    Rebelyell55 by a 3 to 2 vote $75,000 was spent to a "security review". House and Burgin both attempted to have it instead turned over to the Sheriff, DA etc. As a matter of fact they tried on two different occasions and both times it was voted down not to be turned over to Law Enforcement. I wonder what the private law firm can do with $75,000, that the Sheriff or DA can’t? Ummm, I am sure the "Security Review" is unbiased and really addressed the issues going on in Harnett County.

  • JusticewillbeServed Oct 27, 2011

    dwarner3, Sorry but Harnett County's HR already admited County Officals removed the flash drive from the man's jacket. A first they attempted to classify it has a uniform, but it was purchased with a clothing allowance. Yep that makes it his personel property.

  • rebelyell57 Oct 25, 2011

    Now Glenn McFadden, Asst. Public Utilities Director and Mayor of Lillington, is complaining about being harassed by Mr. House. He wants Mr. House fired from the Board of Commissioners. Looks like he has learned a few things from his boss Steve Ward- if you don't like them, fire them. C'mon Glenn, Commissioner House is an elected official and you are a public employee. Mr. House is one of your bosses. We all answer to bosses. What if everyone in the world filed grievances every time our bosses asked questions? Oh wait, the rest of the world isn't like Steve Ward and Glenn McFadden. Steve and Glenn are important people and should be treated different than everyone else. They certainly shouldn't be treated like all those people Steve Ward fired.

  • djac78 Oct 25, 2011

    Well, maybe the complaints should be made to the Attorney General's office. They are reviewing information from the county anyway. Or send the complaints to the news media if our local media is scared to publish it.

  • thetruthlillington Oct 25, 2011

    All 3 have been made by employees that were retaliated against when they came forward and spoke up against unethical practices. Two were fired unfairly with invented charges. The Dunn Daily Record has been aware of these complaints for over 3 weeks yet like everything concerning Harnett County they ignore it until a larger paper picks up the story.

  • djac78 Oct 25, 2011

    What are the 3 EEOC complaints?

  • djac78 Oct 25, 2011

    I feel that the citizens of Harnett County have a right to know what/who is on the recordings. There IS some sort of cover up going on--The fact that it hasn't been given to the public for review speaks volumes. What are you afraid of? We will not keep sitting idle on this issue!

  • thetruthlillington Oct 24, 2011

    I would like to know why no one is reporting on the 3 EEOC complaints filed against Harnett County Department of Social Services?

  • rebelyell57 Oct 24, 2011

    Hey happy, I suggest you contact one of the many customer service represetatives with the Department. They are awesome!