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Fired Wake employee could face criminal charges

Posted June 27, 2008
Updated July 7, 2008

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— A Wake County administrator who was fired after an internal review showed questionable travel expenses could face criminal charges.

Craig P. Wittig was fired June 3 as recycling program manager for the county's Solid Waste Management Division after senior county officials found out he had taken at least 46 trips since he was hired in February 2006.

The trips included whale-watching off the coast of Maine, four ventures to Disney World and a trip to a Las Vegas hotel. County records show he sometimes traveled with his family and often with other county employees.

Wittig told WRAL that the trips were efforts to research environmental programs in other parts of the country so that Wake County could develop a state-of-the-art recycling program. His supervisors approved all of the trips in advance, he said.

County officials are meeting with prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges are warranted in the case.

North Carolina Central University law professor Irving Joyner said the fact that Wittig's supervisors approved the travel expenses could keep Wittig out of court.

"The lack of administrative wisdom does not create criminal conduct," Joyner said.

Wittig's boss, Solid Waste Management Director James S. Reynolds, was demoted last month to the position of solid waste facilities manager.

County Manager David Cooke said he plans to re-evaluate who gets county-issued credit cards.

The county has issued charge cards to 535 of its more than 3,800 employees. In the past 11 months, more than $5.7 million was charged to those cards.

Seven employees in the Solid Waste Management Division, including Wittig, charged $165,165 to credit cards issued by Wake County – they are paid for with public money – between April 2006 and this week, according to county records.

Cooke said he would decide next week whether anyone else would face disciplinary action in the case. He also plans to meet with an independent auditor on Monday.

"I'm going to personally review all the documentation," he said. "We do want to prove to the public that this is an isolated incident. It is not tolerated."

All other Wake County departments have been instructed to review travel expenses for possible questionable spending, he said.

Joe Bryan, who chairs the county Board of Commissioners, said the case is especially sensitive to residents because of Wake County's recent decision to raise taxes.

"This is a critical issue," Bryan said. "This is going to be resolved. We're going to go after this and find the activities entirely unacceptable."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ObaMcCain Jun 27, 2008

    This is very good timing. There was a recent riot at the Wake County Jail over laundry service. He'll be able to put his solid waste removal/cleaning expertise to use for more efficient cleaning of prison uniforms http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/1605372/

  • FloydTurbo Jun 27, 2008

    Is it coincidence that all these guys work in the "Solid Waste" department. Geo Carlin would love this one.

  • bluewind Jun 27, 2008

    He should face criminal charges. I haven't been to DisneyWorld in 3 years, and then we saved and sacrificed to make the trip. Oh yeah, what about Gov. Easley, and Gov. want-a-be Bev Purdue...Why do they get a"stay out of jail" card? They are guilty of wasting taxpayer dollars on their own trips!

  • davidgnews Jun 27, 2008

    Why is James Reynolds being protected? And by whom?

    I can finally agree with tmedlin on something.

    He should have been fired as well, after his employee went on 46 'approved' trips.

    One more reason for less government.

  • bomanicous Jun 27, 2008

    His ability to waste taxpayers money is the reason he was qualified to be a govt employee to begin with.

  • djofraleigh Jun 27, 2008

    Those who approved the trips should be fired...they were in charge and there to prevent this from happening. FIRE them over 165K lost.

  • colliedave Jun 27, 2008

    Why was the guy creating an educational program instead of working on how to process waste in a cost efficent manner? Was his position needed to operate the department? How many similar positions exist in city/county/state government that seem to be make work positions?

  • jgirl5830 Jun 27, 2008

    Why did his family need to be on some of those trips? 46 trips in 2 years, some people don't get to go on that many in a life time. This guy is dirty no way around it.

  • gratefultoGOD Jun 27, 2008

    taxes.... oh why do they go so high???? stop and think before you vote... demos.. are going to eat us alive if elected in!!

  • ifcdirector Jun 27, 2008

    So in essence nothing is going to be done about this and his supervisor is still working there..........as an administrator.......... This is what happens when you elect liberals to run your government. They are all more crooked than a barrel of snakes. How much do you want to bet that as soon as the press and public are distracted again that this same guy who was demoted will be promoted and given a raise (and probably some kind of award to boot) to make up for lost time and money in his bank account.