Tarboro, N.C. — The mayor of an Edgecombe County town who was indicted on 17 counts of embezzlement by a public official earlier this month said Monday that she's innocent.
Princeville Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates is accused of racking up $5,634 in unauthorized charges on a town credit card between August 2010 and January 2012.
She addressed the allegations publicly for the first time Monday at a town hall meeting.
"I want to say to everybody that Mayor Oates never committed a crime," she said. "I am innocent."
She has not resigned from her post, but one town commissioner raised issues with her remaining on the job.
"I'm the mayor, and I'm the presiding mayor," Everette-Oates said at Monday's meeting, to which Commissioner Ann Howell replied: "No, ma'am, you used to be. You may have been. You consider yourself to be."
The state took over the town finances last summer. At the time, Princeville was 9 percent over budget and was in danger of defaulting on a loan.
State auditors soon launched an investigation and accused Everette-Oates of charging $8,115 to a town credit card without any receipts to back up the spending. Charges included $1,255 to Madison Steak and Seafood and $222 to Bed Bath & Beyond.
Malvern King, an attorney for Everette-Oates, has said she plans to plead not guilty in court. He also accused the State Auditor's Office, Local Government Commission and members of the Princeville Town Commission of conspiring to bring down the mayor.
On Monday, Everette-Oates launched accusations on her own behalf, saying the LGC was withholding evidence in an attempt to frame her.
Commission board member Viola Harris dismissed that claim.
"The LGC does not go around the state looking for someone to frame," Harris said. "The LGC's major job is to make sure that these communities, towns and counties stay financially viable."