Priscilla Everette-Oates, the mayor in Princeville, NC, was indicted by an Edgecombe County grand jury Tuesday on 17 counts of embezzlement by a public official. She turned herself in to State Bureau of Investigation agents in Tarboro on Wednesday and was released later on a $7,500 unsecured bond.
The indictment alleges that she spent nearly $5,600 in taxpayer money on expenses unrelated to town business. According to court records, these charges included restaurant tabs, travel expenses, and late payment fees. Oates’ attorney, Malvern King, announced that his client would not plead guilty and “she intends … to prove her innocence in court.”
The charges stem from a State Bureau of Investigation audit in 2012 that revealed Everette-Oates made 133 charges that totaled over $13,000 on the towns credit card from 2010-2012. The mayor’s card included $8,000 worth of expenses that did not include proper documentation. In April, District Attorney Robert Evans called on the SBI to investigate the improper spending activity that was found in the audit. The report also questioned $3,307 in travel reimbursement expenditures that Everette-Oates received.
The state seized control of Princeville’s finances in July 2012 and still manages its money under an agency called the Local Government Commission. Princeville, who also had its finances taken over in 1997, is the only North Carolina municipality to be taken over twice by the Local Government Commission.
Everette-Oates continues to deny these embezzlement charges and even accused state officials of trying to frame her according to a local newspaper.