WRAL Investigates

Ex-bookkeeper charged with stealing from Garner fire department

Posted October 27, 2010 4:10 p.m. EDT
Updated October 27, 2010 6:50 p.m. EDT

— A former employee of the Garner Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department was arrested Wednesday in connection with the disappearance of nearly $400,000 from the department, authorities said.

Amy McKinley Moore, 43, of 6821 Stevens Oaks Drive in Garner, was charged with obtaining property by false pretense and larceny by employee in excess of $100,000. She was released after posting a $50,000 bond.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice, said the obtaining property by false pretense charge involved $393,000. A State Bureau of Investigation probe found that Moore wrote hundreds of checks to herself over a seven-year period.

Fire department officials informed Garner town leaders in January of the missing money, which was uncovered during an outside audit of the department's books from July 2008 to June 2009.

When the SBI was called to investigate shortly after that, Moore abruptly resigned.

Moore worked for the department for a decade as the administrative assistant who handled the fire department's books. Her husband, David Moore, is a detective with the Raleigh Police Department.

Although the majority of the fire department's funding comes from Garner and Wake County, the department is operated as a nonprofit organization and run by an independent board of directors.

Steve Woodall, president of the Garner fire department's board, said in March that the department has taken steps to shore up its internal controls over its finances.

The board now looks at all canceled checks at each monthly meeting, and Garner's mayor pro tempore also sits in on the meetings, Woodall said. Bookkeeping for the department was turned over to the outside company that conducted the annual audits, and a new internal auditor was brought in, he said.

Garner Town Manager Hardin Watkins said the fire department has made progress in working with the town in recent months to ensure accountability and transparency and provide residents with the most effective and efficient services possible.

Under the terms of the fire department's new contract with Garner, the town will appoint three members of the department’s six-member board. The board also will make quarterly reports to the Town Council and conduct more frequent audits.

“I’m impressed with the department’s new openness and new willingness to be accountable,” Watkins said in a statement issued late Wednesday.