Local News

Hoke HR director resigns, sheriff's employee fired amid SBI investigation

Posted February 23, 2017 7:09 a.m. EST
Updated February 23, 2017 4:45 p.m. EST

— The Hoke County human resources director resigned and a sheriff's office employee was fired as a result of a state investigation into time sheets that shut down county offices earlier this week.

Hoke County commissioners called an emergency meeting on Thursday, three days after the State Bureau of Investigation executed​ a search warrant and locked county offices to collect evidence. County Manager Letitia Edens said the SBI looked at records of fewer than five people.

After returning from closed session, Assistant Chairman Harry Southerland announced the resignation of LaTonya Benjamin, who had worked for the county for almost seven years, and the firing of the other county worker. Sheriff Hubert Peterkin declined to name the person in his office who was fired or the reason for the termination.

Southerland also announced that a financial firm has been hired to look into the ongoing SBI investigation.

"What we're doing is looking at the internal controls of our own county offices," he said after the meeting. "We just want to be aggressive and assertive in getting to the bottom of it."

Five time sheets, of 18 total files confiscated, were still being investigated, but officials said the SBI would not need to return to the county offices.

WRAL was unable to obtain a copy of Monday's search warrant because it has not been turned over to the courthouse clerk. It is not clear how long it will take the SBI to complete the investigation.

Commissioners had little to say about the investigation after their meeting, but Commissioner Allen Thomas posted on Facebook that the sheriff's office was tipped off three months ago to an alleged scheme in which at least two county employees worked together to falsify time sheets "to gain extra pay for time that wasn't worked."

No charges have been filed yet against either of the two employees.