Local News

Former Wake official's embezzlement trial set for October

Posted April 30, 2018 11:13 a.m. EDT

— Former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick will go on trial in October on charges that she stole close to $1 million from the office over several years.

Riddick faces six counts of embezzlement by a public officer. Authorities allege that she skimmed more than $900,000 from the deeds office's in cash receipts between 2010 and last year.

Three other former deeds office employees – Veronica Gearon, Murray Parker and Troy Ellis – also have been charged in the case.

Some employees found irregularities last year while trying to implement a new cash-handling system, so then-Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann brought in county auditors to go over the books. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman later called the State Bureau of Investigation to assist with the probe.

Riddick resigned her position around the time the SBI was called in, but Hartmann and Freeman said at the time that her departure was unrelated to the investigation and was the result of a heart condition that necessitated surgery.

John Stephenson, the county's internal auditor, has said an average of $1,100 to $1,900 a day was taken from the office's cash receipts for vital records since at least 2008.

County officials said the missing money was hard to spot because reports were doctored to match deposits. Internal financial controls have since been beefed up in the deeds office to prevent further theft.

The county filed an insurance claim in August, stating a loss of $2,333,591.30 from the Register of Deeds Office over nine years because of "employee dishonesty or employee theft." Freeman said that number included mistakes made and waived fees as well as possible criminal cases they don't have evidence for.

Riddick's trial is set to begin Oct. 1, following a July 9 motions hearing.