Local News

Audit Finds More Than $840K in Questionable Spending at NCSU

Posted October 2, 2000

— A state auditor's report into a former N.C. State public safety director's spending habits was released Tuesday, painting a critical picture of the department's operation.

State Auditor Ralph Campbell said that his office found instances of "poor judgment" during their investigation of former NCSU police chief Ralph Harper. He resigned three months ago amid allegations that he misued public university money.

Over six years, Harper spent over $843,000 to outfit his department with items it did not need, the report says.

According to published reports, Harper outfitted his department with 15 television sets, 17 VCRs and 22 laptop computers. The audit also mentions over 100 questionable items -- from smoke grenades and trip wires to recording devices -- many of which he kept at his home and in his truck.

Harper drove a pickup truck purchased for his use, even though the university had assigned him a car.

The report details out-of-town business trips, but instead of attending all of the seminars, co-workers say the former chief skipped off to a casino and other tourist areas.

Those same co-workers say he recorded their telephone conversations without their knowledge.

They say they also saw Ralph Harper drinking alcohol while driving on campus. Harper denies that in the report and offers explanations for his purchases.

The report also chides the university for not knowing what was going on.

"We've done everything we can to be sure that N.C. State will not tolerate the misuse of public funds, and we can guarantee you that it won't ever happen again," she says.

The auditor's report also suggests that Harper intentionally left vacancies in his department so that he would have extra money to spend on items.

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