Departing North Carolina auditor Beth Wood pleads guilty to misuse of government vehicle, receives probation

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - On his last day on the job, North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood pleaded guilty Friday to two misdemeanor counts of misusing a state-issued vehicle for personal activities.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway sentenced Wood to 12 months of unsupervised probation, news outlets reported. Wake District Attorney Laurin Freeman said Wood paid $1,064 in restitution as part of a plea agreement.

The sentencing and resignation appear to mark a year in which Wood's driving ultimately led to his ouster as auditor, a post he first won in 2008. Wood announced His resignation last monthTwo days after a grand jury indicted him on the charges.

The counts state that in 2021 and 2022, Wood "used a specified state-owned vehicle to travel to out-of-town hair appointments and dental appointments, shopping centers, and spa locations where she conducted business in her official capacity." Was not involved."

Wood, a Democrat, said last month that she reimbursed the state by intentionally overpaying for the miles driven in it to cover personal use of the car she drove to her job.

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Wood attorney Roger Smith Jr. said Friday that he has accepted responsibility for driving his official car for personal use.

"This is a sad day for Beth Wood," Smith said in a statement. “For the last 15 years, he has been honored to serve the people of this state. She loved her job and was grateful for the opportunity to serve. She has paid a heavy price, but she is looking forward to her next chapter.

While auditor, Wood was likely to receive praise or scorn from officials in both parties for his agency's reviews criticizing misuse of government funds.

"One of the things that's shocking about this case is that they held people accountable for 15 years but then violated the rules," Freeman said Friday. "This is a double standard."

The indictment came after a months-long investigation by state agents that culminated in him being cited for leaving the scene of a crash in December 2022 when he crashed his state-owned vehicle into a parked car in downtown Raleigh. Gave. no one was hurt.

apologetic wood pleaded guilty in March Paid fines and court costs for misdemeanor hit-and-run related to the accident. A few months later, Wood, now 69, said she still planned to run for re-election.

In keeping with the state constitution, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper appointed former Wake County Commission chair jessica holmes After his departure, Wood's tenure as auditor will end at the end of 2024. Holmes filed this month to run for the position next year. Several Republicans are also seeking their party's nomination for auditor in the upcoming primaries.

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