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Landis attorney relays SBI’s concerns about jeopardizing probe

LANDIS — Landis Town Attorney Rick Locklear on Monday called on the Board of Aldermen and town residents to restrain from making comments about the embezzlement investigation of two former town employees.

Locklear said a State Bureau of Investigation official contacted the town about concerns related to jeopardizing the investigation of former Town Manager Reed Linn and former Finance Officer Ginger Gibson. He said comments about the investigation may compromise it and cause the case to be moved from Rowan County.

“As a prosecutor trying to get a fair trial for someone, a predisposition of the community or statements being made in regards to an individual’s guilt or innocence may adversely affect that person’s ability to have a fair trial,” Locklear said. “Because of that, sometimes defense attorneys will ask for the case to be removed from that county.”

People attending town meetings should be aware that because they are now streamed live online, more people can watch from outside the meetings, including people looking to open businesses in town, Locklear said. The town, he explained, is becoming very attractive for growth.

Town Manager Roger Hosey echoed Locklear’s statements, asking the board and residents to be mindful about how the town is presented during the live-stream.

“If we look more like a circus than a city on the live-stream, we got all these businesses spending a lot of money relocating, growing up the Charlotte corridor. I don’t want to deprive anyone their right to speak,” Hosey said.

If someone is about to speak about the investigation, Locklear said, town officials will interject.

In other business

• Hosey spoke about a letter from the State Treasurer’s Office’s Local Government Commission, signed by Sharon Edmundson on Aug. 20.

The letter’s conclusion, referring to Hosey, says, “There is one significant issue that we want to address with the board. Currently, one employee is holding four significant positions of authority within the town — town manager, interim finance officer, deputy police chief and information technology manager.”

Hosey said state law allows him to serve in the Police Department and as town manager. He said Edmundson expressed her opinion. He said the situation is well within the law.

• Alderman candidate and police Officer Buddy Porter Jr. spoke during the public-comment period about not being able to serve as an alderman, if elected, and said he plans to continue to work as a Landis police officer.

He commended Hosey for staying clam throughout his leadership.

“Hosey has continued to fight for Landis with minor burns and scars that will last a lifetime,” Porter said. “Hosey has done more good for this town for the short time that he has been working that anyone has done in the history of Landis.”

Porter has said he would forgo taking his seat as alderman if elected.

• The aldermen finished the meeting with endorsements of candidates.

Mayor Mike Mahaley, Mayor Pro Tem Tommy Garver and Tony Corriher announced their support for Alderman Bobby Brown for mayor and Darrell Overcash for alderman. Mahaley and Corriher also announced their support for Shirley Martin as a write-in candidate.

Garver recommended that voters show their support for Porter by voting for him.

“Show Buddy you do appreciate and you do trust him and that would make a statement for Buddy to get the most votes of anybody,” Garver said.

Alderman Seth Moore endorsed Meredith Smith for mayor and Katie Sells and Ashley Stewart for the Board of Aldermen.

• The board approved a resolution to allow the town manager to order personal property to be destroyed or discarded if it is determined to have no value, does not sell or is not claimed after town efforts to find the owner, or poses a threat to public health or safety.

• The aldermen also approved a resolution to enable electric customers to generate renewable energy.

• The board rescheduled its next two meetings to Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.

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