Oxford Police Chief Under Fire For Allegations Of Wrongdoing
Posted January 10, 2006
OXFORD, N.C. — The small city of Oxford is split on the need for an investigation into money spent by the town's police chief. Some say he embezzled it while authorities say there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
"I cannot understand how they cannot investigate this and let the truth out," said Oxford Police Department administrative assistant Sharon Iglesias.
Iglesias says she can prove Oxford Police Chief John Wolford improperly took hundreds of dollars over a nearly three-year period from a drug fund. As his administrative assistant, she says the transactions required a witness. Instead, Iglesias says, he would leave notes and take money while she was out of the office.
"They've put up a smokescreen to cover up the truth," Iglesias said. "The fact is, there was a crime committed here and that's my opinion."
After Iglesias reported her concerns to the city and to the State Bureau of Investigation, they debated it in newspaper advertisements and letters to the editor during the last mayor's race.
Finally, the mayor issued a letter in the newspaper supporting Wolford, claiming the SBI investigate. But that never happened because Granville County District Attorney Sam Currin said an investigation was not necessary.
"(Wolford's) explanation was that he was investigating another officer and he had to pay an informant," Currin said.
Currin says he trusts Wolford's word without any other documentation.
"Embezzlement is a crime," Currin said. "I would prosecute the chief if I thought he had truly embezzled something from this fund."
Wolford says his investigation turned up nothing and maintains he did not do anything suspicious. When WRAL asked him why he did not inform anyone prior to his internal investigation, he said it would have jeopardized it.
"I didn't want it to leak that I was checking to see if there were bad cops," Wolford said.
Former Town Commissioner Jack Carey says an investigation into the matter is the only way to get answers.
"I think there's a lot of doubt in the city of Oxford," Carey said. "People would like to know the truth, and this is the only way to get the truth."
Wolford, however, says his department is being scrutinized because an officer pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 2004. He also says the documentation for the investigation in question is with the city attorney and the city manager.
They both say, though, they cannot comment because the case is a personnel matter.
Other agencies WRAL spoke with say their department head would likely contact the district attorney or have an outside agency do an internal investigation on an officer, especially if it involved paying an informant. They indicated it would be highly unusual for a chief to act alone and in secret.
WRAL has also learned that in Oxford, the city and the police chief now share control of the fund.