Former Spring Lake CFO arrested and charged with embezzlement

The former Spring Lake chief financial officer was arrested Friday by federal authorities and charged with embezzlement, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Gay Cameron Tucker, 63, of Fayetteville, is accused of embezzling more than $500,000 from Spring Lake during her tenure as the city’s chief financial officer and accounting technician, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. An indictment also accuses him of carrying out the embezzlement using fraudulent checks containing forged signatures from the mayor and city manager, according to the statement.

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U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said in the statement that city government officials are responsible for spending taxpayers’ money for public needs — not their own.

“Our prosecutors and law enforcement partners are committed to vigorously investigating all allegations of public corruption,” he said.

Tucker is charged with one count of embezzlement from a local government receiving federal funds, four counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated impersonation.

CONTEXT:NC Auditor’s Report on Spring Lake: Evidence of Financial Wrongdoing, Including Embezzlement

A 56-page investigative report released by State Auditor Beth Wood in March found that the city’s former accounting technician, who also served as Spring Lake’s chief financial officer for more than a year, used the minus $430,112 of city money for personal use. The report did not name the technician, but said in footnotes that she served as the city’s chief financial officer from March 2020 to April 2021 and acting chief financial officer from March 2020 to September 2020.

City council of aldermen meeting minutes show Tucker served as chief financial officer in February 2021 and was named interim chief financial officer in March 2020.

The report recommended that the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen consider taking legal action against the former accounting technician. He accuses the technician of having written 72 checks for his personal use.

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The technician wrote 32 checks for a total of more than $16,000 which were payable to Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union and deposited into her personal bank account there, according to the report.

The report says 27 checks totaling more than $151,000 were made payable to the technician, with 24 deposited into her personal account and one deposited into her husband’s credit union account. Thirteen checks totaling more than $113,000 were made out to Heritage Place Senior Living and used to pay the technician’s husband’s monthly bills, according to the report.

The FBI is investigating the case, according to the statement. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore is the prosecutor.

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Local News Editor Steve DeVane can be reached at [email protected].

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