Local News

SBI Never Investigated Oxford Police Chief's Alleged Wrongdoing

Posted January 26, 2006

— A spokeswoman with the State Bureau of Investigation says the agency never investigated allegations that Oxford's police chief improperly took money from a drug fund, even though Oxford officials say, in a

news release, it did.

The SBI's statement comes one day after WRAL learned that Police Chief John Wolford's administrative assistant, Sharon Iglesias, was fired from her position.

City Of Oxford Press Release Regarding Police Chief John Wolford

A termination letter that Iglesias received stated that she was terminated from her position at the Oxford Police Department, partly because of her "disruptive and disrespectful behavior."

But Iglesias, who raised concerns about Wolford's alleged wrongdoing, says she was fired because of her accusations.

Iglesias alleges that Wolford took hundreds of dollars from the department's drug fund without having a witness -- which was policy -- only leaving notes that he took it.

On Jan. 9, Wolford told WRAL that he took the money as part of an internal investigation into corrupt officers, but that the investigation turned up nothing. He maintained he did nothing suspicious and that informing anyone prior to the investigation would have jeopardized the investigation.

In the news release issued Wednesday, Oxford city officials say Wolford was cleared of any wrongdoing, and that the SBI investigated the case and found no criminal misconduct.

Iglesias, however, insists there has not been an investigation.

City Manager Thomas Marrow told WRAL the reference to the SBI investigation was just a matter of wording. Actually, he says, the SBI just reviewed the case.

SBI spokeswoman Noelle Talley tells WRAL the bureau never investigated the matter because no one ever asked its officials to do so, saying that the SBI starts an investigation only if asked by a district attorney or a local law enforcement agency.

Granville County District Attorney Sam Currin says the situation never reached the investigative level.

"We decided on what we had so far -- there wasn't enough evidence, so no investigation was needed," Currin said.

In a Jan. 9 interview with WRAL, Currin said that he trusted 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."

Currin says his office found that Wolford did not break any law -- he just did not practice good policy.

Still, Iglesias wants an investigation to prove it, even though the city says it considers the case closed.

As for Iglesias' termination from the police department, Marrow would not comment, saying the matter was a personnel issue.

Iglesias says she may consider legal action for what she calls improper firing.

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