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July 11, 2013

Everette-Oates — 'They're trying to frame us'

PRINCEVILLE — PRINCEVILLE — "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." - Isaiah 54:17

Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates uttered those sacred words during a telephone interview two days after the Princeville board of commissioners voted "no" against allowing the Local Government Commission to categorize questionable credit card charges and travel expenses and place them in the town's 2012-2013 budget.

Everette-Oates said she did not use the town credit cards during that fiscal year.

In an audit report, the LGC revealed Everette-Oates and former town clerk Diana Draughn made questionable credit card purchases totaling more than $10,000 without providing proper receipts or documents.

LGC also charged that Everette-Oates, commissioner Isabelle Purvis-Andrews and former interim town manager Maggie Boyd spent more than $4,112 combined for travel reimbursements without adequate supporting documents. The expenses are being investigated by the SBI, which was called in on the case in April by the Edgecombe County district attorney.

A "yes" vote would have resolved the matter and given the LGC permission to place the questionable expenses in their respective categories in the 2012-2013 budget. The "no" vote keeps the matter under investigation.

During the special called meeting on Monday, commissioners Ann Howell, Gwen Knight and Calvin Sherrod voted against it. Everette-Oates and Purvis-Andrews abstained from voting.

"What they're doing they're trying to frame us," Everette-Oates said emphatically. "It's not going to work. They're not going to frame me, they're not going to frame Isabelle, and they not going to frame Maggie Boyd. I'm not going to allow that to happen. This is another attack on us by our opponents and the Local Government Commission."

Everette-Oates has hired a lawyer and said documentation for all the charges in question were at the town hall in August 2012 — one month after the LGC took over the town's finances.

She claims that in September 2012, the LGC illegally removed those documents as well as other files from the town hall.

"Those original documents were taken from the town property without permission from the interim town manager/town clerk or the board approval," Everette-Oates said. "They can't take documents without approval.

"When Maggie Boyd went to look for the documents, they had disappeared. The documents were there before LGC took over. I've got proof that they removed receipts. And I believe that files were tampered (with)."

Everette-Oates said the issuing of the credit cards was approved by former town manager Victor Marrow. She said credit cards were also issued to the police chief and his officers, the maintenance department and Marrow himself.

"The town manager has to approve reimbursements before payment is received," Everette-Oates said. "(Proper) documents must be attached before payments are reimbursed. We had the proper documents. Victor Marrow's initials are on the documents.

"There's no resolution stating Victor Marrow couldn't establish credit cards for the use of the town, and and there's no resolution saying that he couldn't have (a) credit card himself," Everette-Oates said. "Credit cards were used by the previous administration's town manager, the former town clerk and the former chief of police without the board approval. They (accounts) were opened before I was elected."

Howell and Knight said they were not aware of the credit cards until the town's 2012 audit report revealed the questionable purchases.

Former Mayor Delia Perkins said during her administration the town used a Discover Card.

"This negative stuff has been going on for months," Everette-Oates said. "It must stop."

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