SBI arrests Princeville mayor for embezzlement
PRINCEVILLE (AP) — The mayor of a North Carolina town that was one of the first communities in the country established by freed slaves was arrested Wednesday on embezzlement charges alleging she spent the town’s money while shopping and dining out.
Princeville Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates was arrested by State Bureau of Investigation agents, agency spokeswoman Noelle Talley said. Everette-Oates was indicted earlier this week on 17 counts of embezzlement related to questioned purchases made with the town’s credit card.
Her attorney, Malvern King Jr. of Durham, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.
A state audit released in April found that Everette-Oates ran up more than $8,115 that wasn’t backed up by receipts. The questionable charges spanned two years including hotels, gas, nearly two dozen visits to a seafood restaurant, and two trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, the audit said.
The audit covered a period ending last July, when state officials stepped in to take over Princeville’s finances for a second time. It is the only community in the state’s history whose finances have twice been taken over by the state’s Local Government Commission, which also had to straighten out Princeville’s books in 1997.
About 90 percent of the town was submerged under 20 feet of water from Hurricane Floyd in 1999. But Princeville’s history as one of the country’s first towns created by freed slaves in 1865 led celebrities and public officials to launch a rebuilding effort. The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave $26 million to Princeville’s residents and another $1.5 million to the town to rebuild from the flood.
Allegations of financial mismanagement have been around in the town of about 2,000 ever since.
The former town manager pleaded guilty in 2009 to obtaining property by false pretense after being accused of sending more than $25,000 to a nonexistent construction company for unfinished work following Floyd. Sam Knight was sentenced to prison after failing to reimburse the $25,000 by a court-ordered deadline.