Local News

Former Durham City Councilor At Center Of SBI Investigation

Posted October 10, 2002

— A Durham school board member-elect and former city council member faces accusations that she altered financial documents.

District Attorney Jim Hardin asked the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate because of Jackie Wagstaff's ties to the city. Wagstaff is the executive director of an organization that gets funding from the city.

A big part of the SBI investigation involves a payment made by that group to a bus company.

The Northeast Central Durham Reinvestment Corp. is struggling to stay open after the City Council cut its funding, amidst accusations of fraud and mismanagement. Wagstaff defends the nonprofit group and herself. Specifically, she denies altering a check to pay for bus trips.

"I didn't sit around for weeks and plot about doing this. I pulled out the form, came in here, there's a typewriter sitting over there, typed in Northeast Central Durham. I'm the executive director, typed my name in and typed in the bus company and put the amount of money that we owed to them and sent it to them from our office as a good faith document," Wagstaff said.

The city said it gave the organization $600,000 to serve low-income people. Council members said there are indications it was not spent properly, but Wagstaff said that is not the case.

"You try to give people the appearance that you've put it in the organization and we have mismanaged funds, but it has not come here and that's what the people need to know. We have not mismanaged anything," Wagstaff said. "In order to manage money, you've got to have money. We don't have money. We have managed a program."

Wagstaff claims Durham City Council members are trying to make her a scapegoat.

City Councilman John Best told WRAL that it is the council's job to be a watchdog for taxpayers. Best said the council has looked closely at Wagstaff's operation and concluded the group needs new leadership.

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