Ernest Rowland Watts, former executive director for the Richmond County Council on Aging and Carolyn Lowery, administrative assistant and bookkeeper have been indicted and a court date has been set for Sept., 8 at 10 a.m.
According to court records, Watts faces two counts of embezzlement and two counts of conspiracy to embezzle. Lowery is facing three counts of embezzlement and one count of conspiracy to embezzle.
The Council on Aging is a non-profit organization which helps seniors in Richmond County. It hosts events and assist in raising funds for the elderly and aging services in the Richmond County area.
Agent Charles Massey of the State Bureau of Investigation deferred questions to the Noel Talley, public information officer for the North Carolina Department of Justice. She did not return phone calls as of presstime.
The misappropriated funds from the COA’s budget went missing beginning in January 2001 and ending in March 2006 when Watts and Lowery both resigned from their positions, according to court documents.
Their bonds have been set at $20,000.
At a 2006 Richmond County Commission meeting, Margaret Kelly of Lumber River Council of Governments said three factors which contributed to the deficit and alerted officials were:
n Unapproved salary amounts exceeding the approved budget for the past four years.
n Penalties imposed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the N.C. Department of Revenue due to late filing of required reports and lateness of other mandatory accounting transactions.
n Unauthorized credit card transactions made to RCCOA accounts.
After the resignation of Watts, Kelly assumed the role as interim manager of the COA until Jacqueline Adkins accepted the position of director in July 2007.