Lawsuit: Former Wake deeds employee uncovered embezzlement, was fired
A former deputy director of the Wake County Register of Deeds Office alleges in a new lawsuit that he was fired last year because his efforts to automate cash-handling systems in the office uncovered an embezzlement scheme.Posted — Updated
Darryl Black is seeking compensatory damages for lost pay and benefits as well as punitive damages against his former boss, Laura Riddick, in the lawsuit filed last Friday.
Black joined the deeds office in March 2016 and was responsible for daily operations. Within weeks, he noticed "significant discrepancies" in the office's financial records and met with another staffer to try to resolve them, according to the lawsuit.
"[Black] noted off-book financial transactions, pooling of cash, lack of documentation, insufficient separation of duties, lack of regular audits and no independent reconciliation to the source transaction information maintained in the IT system, the lawsuit states.
When Riddick learned of Black's efforts, she told him to stop, ordered other deeds office staffers to report his actions to her and ostracized him within the office, according to the lawsuit.
"[He] was not allowed to participate in key meetings he had participated in before. [He] was instructed by Riddick to limit his interaction with other organizations and to copy her on any communications outside the office," the lawsuit states. "Riddick in effect removed any supervisory control [he] had over the organization."
By September 2016, Riddick said she wanted Black out of the office and that she was looking for his replacement, and when Riddick and other deeds office staffers were sworn in for new terms following the elections in November, she refused to have him sworn in as well, the lawsuit alleges.
The IT staff completed Black's requests to automate cash reports by 2017, and Riddick ordered that Black be fired on Feb. 10 to provide him 30 days' notice, according to the lawsuit.
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.
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