By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Princeville Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates was given a Dec. 10 trial date Tuesday by Superior Court Judge Toby Fitch. Facing 17 counts of embezzlement by a public official, Everette-Oates made her second appearance in court. Her first was on Aug.6 when she was officially charged. Tuesday's proceedings were only to set her trial date.
Everette-Oates' lawyer, Joe Hester, said the action was taken to "see where we are so that we can make a motion in regard to the discovery." Hester said his client will plead not guilty.
The mayor is accused of making $5,634 in unauthorized charges on a town credit card between August 2010 and January 2012. A state auditor's report states that receipts for the charges were not found.
Everette-Oates has contended the receipts were in the town hall before the Local Government Commission (LGC) took over the town's finances on July 31, 2012 because of its poor fiscal condition. She is accusing the LGC of removing the receipts in an attempt to "frame" her.
Members of the LGC and the mayor have been at odds since the takeover. Everette-Oates fought against it and, as recently as August, she questioned the need for LGC to take over over the finances.
Part of LGC's reasons for the takeover included the town nearly defaulting on a state loan and and numerous statutory violations. Shortly after July 31, the LGC confiscated paperwork from the town hall.
Everette-Oates claims the missing receipts were at the town hall prior to the LGC takeover.
The LGC has denied removing the receipts and a spokesman for LGC said during a prior interview that the LGC is not trying to frame Everette-Oates.
Receipts that are missing includes trips to 11 hotels, ($1,146) 95 gas stations visits ($4,726) and 81 restaurants ($4,006). In most cases, on the same day that a charge was made at an eatery, one was also made at a gas station.
Everette-Oates has said the majority of the trips were made to discuss economic development for the town.
The mayor walked in the crowed courtroom with her husband, DeArthur Oates, and sat in the back of the crowded courtroom. In less than 30 minutes, she was given an order to reappear in court on Dec. 10. The new court date will assure Everette-Oates an opportunity to seek reelection. The two-term mayor (2000-2004, current) is on the Nov. 5 ballot and is opposed by Milton Bullock, Bobbie Jones, Theresa Williams.