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May 12, 2021

D.A. turns investigation of Sheriff's Office over to N.C. attorney general

Staff report
District Attorney Bill Kenerly has turned over the findings of a criminal investigation into possible embezzlement at the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office to the N.C. Attorney General.
Last summer, Kenerly and the Sheriff’s Office asked the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the missing monies.
“That investigation has been completed and was delivered to my office several weeks ago,” Kenerly said in a statement Friday.
“After reading the report and discussing it with the investigating special agent, I concluded that the report should be referred to the North Carolina Attorney General.”
Kenerly added that he has asked the Special Prosecutions Section of the Attorney General’s office to review the SBI investigation, “make such charging decisions as are appropriate, and prosecute any indictments that might result.”
He said Special Prosecutions has agreed to review the investigation materials and act accordingly.
“The Rowan County District Attorney’s office will not participate further in this matter,”‘ Kenerly said.
On March 25, 2008, Kathy Hudgins, secretary to Sheriff George Wilhelm, was placed on administrative leave at the start of the SBI investigation. She eventually resigned June 17 after her paid leave ran for nearly 10 weeks.
County officials contacted the sheriff after realizing that her maximum amount of paid administrative leave, which is 30 days, had expired.
In her resignation letter, Hudgins said she looked forward to clearing her name. She had worked for the Sheriff’s Office since 1996, and neither county officials nor investigators have publicly linked her to any embezzlement.
The SBI investigation began after discrepancies surfaced in the Sheriff’s Office accounts. Wilhelm had said Hudgins was placed on leave because she handled deposits. Other employees handle cash from fees and judgments.
No one has said how much money is missing from the Sheriff’s Office.

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