NC Auditor Wood indicted for use of state vehicle | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Theresa Opeka.

    A Wake County grand jury handed up an indictment Tuesday against North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood for allegedly using a state vehicle for private purposes.

    The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) conducted an eight-month investigation into Wood's use of state-owned vehicles before and after the Dec. 8 accident when she hit a parked car owned by Chris Valverde of Pinehurst, near the intersection of Salisbury and Hargett Streets in downtown Raleigh.

    SBI found that Wood allegedly traveled back and forth to regularly scheduled hair and dental appointments out of town and to shopping centers and spa locations where "she was not engaged in business in her official capacity" between January 2021 and December 2022.

    Wood faces a Class 2 misdemeanor charge of the private use of a publicly owned vehicle.

    A court date is scheduled for Dec. 4.

    According to a press release from Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman's office, the investigation is ongoing.

    Carolina Journal contacted Wood's office by phone for comment but did not receive a response before publication.

    Wood, a Democrat who has been known as the state's "watchdog" for her department's audits of financial misconduct, had the spotlight thrown on her for the December 2022 incident.

    She faced much controversy after she left the scene of the accident and was charged on Dec. 12 with a misdemeanor for hit-and-run, leaving the scene, property damage, and an infraction for unsafe movement.

    Wood was at a Christmas party that night. Video obtained by WRAL shows Wood being led into the law office of Rufus Edmisten, a former N.C. secretary of state and Watergate lawyer, while her car remains in the intersection on top of Valverde's car.

    In March, Wood pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run charge. WNCN - CBS 17 reported that Wood appeared with her attorney, Roger Smith Jr, in court. The infraction citation was dropped. The report said that Wood told the judge that she was not impaired the night of the crash but that she had two glasses of wine at a previous Christmas party. She paid $11,000 in restitution and a $300 court fine.

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    Last Wednesday, Wood announced at the end of a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing that she is not seeking re-election for a fifth term in 2024.

    "I just wanted to take this time today to announce to this committee, whose many members are near and dear to my heart and have enjoyed working with them, that I'm announcing this afternoon that I am not running for re-election," she announced during the hearing on the NC Department of Commerce Employment Security Division payment of unemployment insurance payments.

    "There are some circumstances that are in my life, and I've recognized four years from now, I'll be 74 years old, and so if there are some things I want to do, I need to get them done now."
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