Local News

DA's Report Questions Top Hunt Officials Role...

Posted Updated

RALEIGH (AP) — A district attorney's report on a controversial$100,000 settlement with a former Division of Motor Vehiclesemployee criticizes a top official's handling of the case andquestions whether he stopped an internal probe into his conduct.

The report by Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby - asummary of a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry - was issuedMonday. It outlines events that led Bill Pittman, then Gov. JimHunt's legal counsel, to agree to the settlement.

The 84-page document is full of strange tales about politics andpersonalities within the DMV - missing government files,investigative notes scribbled on a coloring book and former DMVemployee Algie Toomer's own service as a driver who ferriedlegislators on trips and picked up the boss's kids at school.

The SBI probe led to former DMV Commissioner Alexander Killensto plead guilty in September to interfering with a 1995 criminalinvestigation of Toomer.

The report also raises questions about actions by Fred Aikens,who was at that time was deputy transportation secretary withresponsibilities over DMV.

The report said Aikens, who was a deputy transportationsecretary with responsibility for DMV, instructed DOT auditors tostop an investigation into Toomer's use of state telephones.

One official told SBI agents that he ``recalled Aikensinstructing him to do away with any documentation in his possessionpertinent to the investigation of Toomer.''

Aikens, now a top official in the Department of Corrections,said Monday he never gave such instructions.

The report points to Aikens for failing to carry out an initialsettlement reached with Toomer in January 1996 that called forToomer to be transferred to Hillsborough and given a 10 percentraise that he said had been promised him

Aikens, who was acting DMV commissioner at the time, said Mondaythat it was not his responsibility to see that the settlement wascarried out. He said it was never carried out because Toomer, whowas on sick leave, never returned to work.

Pittman told the SBI that the $100,000 payment wouldn't havebeen necessary if Aikens and other top transportation officials hadresolved the matter before it reached the governor's office.

``He says that everybody at DOT/DMV hoped Toomer would just goaway and, therefore, did not implement the deal,'' the report saysof Pittman, who has since been appointed by Hunt to a seat on thestate Utilities Commission

Pittman also blamed faulty information given to him by thePolice Benevolent Association, which was acting on Toomer's behalf.

``Information of Toomer being mistreated by DMV which was givento Bill Pittman by the (Police Benevolent Association) appears notto be accurate,'' the report said.

Pittman told SBI agents that by the time the matter reached him,he thought the Hillsborough deal was no longer acceptable toToomer.

``He determined that he was going to put an end to the matter inthe summer of 1996, and that he was determined to keep Toomer andthe (Police Benevolent Association) from going to the Governorabout Toomer,'' the report says.

The report shows a few instances in which individual DMVrecords, or whole files, were missing.

DMV employees told the SBI that Killens took a file on aninternal investigation and that documents were missing when hereturned it. A secretary said that Toomer once asked for his timesheets, and she had difficulty getting him to return them.

``She said she did eventually receive the time sheets, but itwas her opinion that some of the time sheets had been altered,''the report says.

Betsy Anne Hayes, who was Killens' administrative assistant,told SBI agents that she created a separate file for correspondencerelating to Toomer. She said that she could not find the file afterKillens resigned.

Much of the information released in the report was not new. Manyof the same people who provided information to SBI investigatorshave testified before a state House committee also looking into thesettlement.

Willoughby said he believed it was important to release thereport because of the overriding public interest in the case. TheSBI investigation, begun after a request by Hunt, did not focus onthe settlement itself but on possible obstruction of justice at theDMV.

Toomer has said he believes he is entitled to the settlementbecause he was caught in the middle of a power struggle betweenKillens and other top DMV officials who disliked the formercommissioner.

Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

Copyright 2022 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.