Indictments Expected This Week in Wake County Register of Deeds Scandal | News
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Indictments Expected This Week in Wake County Register of Deeds Scandal

Posted by on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 6:39 PM

Indictments are expected as early as Tuesday from the grand jury investigating the Wake County Register of Deeds office.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said last month that investigators will present findings to grand jurors before the end of the year. And Tuesday marks the last day the grand jury will meet, according to public records.

Depending on when Clerk of Court Jennifer Knox releases the information, any indictments resulting from those grand jury sessions could be made public Wednesday.

The Register of Deeds office, formerly headed by Laura Riddick, showed losses of some $2.3 million between 2008 and 2017, according to a claim the county submitted to its insurers. The losses totaled more than $100,000 a year for nine straight years, leading to investigations by the county, Freeman's office, and the State Bureau of Investigation.

"We are in the final stages of our investigation into the misappropriation of funds within the Register of Deeds office and expect to present findings to the grand jury by the end of the year," Freeman told the INDY late last month.

Riddick has not been available for comment since issuing a statement after her resignation.

Citizens meeting as a grand jury are asked to decide whether people who may have committed crimes will be indicted. From four to six indictments may result from the investigation, sources say.

The Register of Deeds office handles payments and documents for a variety of activities, including real estate records, marriage licenses, birth certificates, and business licenses. This investigation has taken more time than expected because of the sheer number of documents and financial accounts to be pored over, former county manager Jim Hartmann said earlier this year.

Wake County voters elect the Register of Deeds. The job was held from 1996 until March by Riddick, who announced her retirement during the period when former county manager Jim Hartmann and Freeman said publicly that the SBI would conduct an investigation of the missing funds.

Riddick said at the time that she was retiring because of bad health.

Some observers have attributed the lack of strict oversight of the register's financial records to a practice of overseeing elected officials less closely than other county department heads. In the report to the insurance company, the county auditor said his office conducted cash-receipt interviews in ten departments in 2014, but none in the Register of Deeds office.

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