Officials to testify in Easley probe

August 19, 2009 4:24:45 AM PDT
More state officials will parade into the federal courthouse in Raleigh on Wednesday to testify in the investigation of former governor Mike Easley and his wife.On Tuesday, Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the federal subpoenas served on the state auditor' and her chief deputy.

The subpoena not only asked Beth Wood for specifics of her office's investigations of the former first couple, but also her relationship with the Easley's - specifics her office said does not exist.

Wood, through a spokesperson, said the only communication she had with the Easley's was before and after last year's Democratic primary.

"She had asked both of them for any, you know, any help they give politically, financially, whatever," said Dennis Patterson with the state auditor's office. "She's unaware of any financial contributions that were made."

But he admitted that the latest subpoenas appeared to insinuate a belief that there was a cover up of an audit inherited by Wood from her Republican predecessor.

Patterson said the audit of a trip Mary Easley took to Europe was released by the outgoing Republican auditor last fall. But the audit of the former first lady's salary at NC State was not completed when it was handed off to Wood, a newly elected Democrat.

She wanted her staff to get more facts and that's when they realized the FBI was looking for the same information.

"National audit standards require that whenever law enforcement is involved, auditors are to close up shop, put all the documents back they have, and back out of the situation," Patterson said.

For now, the state audit is on hold. But Woods' motives will still be the center of attention at the federal courthouse on Wednesday.

The subpoenas for grand jury testimony from the state auditor's office aren't the first to be served on the office.

In June, officials from the auditor's office showed up at the federal courthouse to answer a subpoena sent to the custodian of records.

Then they were asked only for documents related to the auditor's investigation of the hiring of Mary Easley at NC State.

Now the auditor's office has been served with three subpoenas for Wood, her chief deputy and the custodian of records.

This time the subpoenas are more specific. Woods' subpoena asks for all documents concerning not just Mary Easley's $170,000 a year job at NC State, but also documents involving two controversial trips taken by the first lady to Europe in 2007 and 2008.

The federal grand jury also wants documentation of any communication, business deals, or campaign contributions between Wood and the "relevant parties".

And for the first time it lists those relevant parties.

Except for the former governor and first lady, all the names are those of high-level staffers or political operatives in the Easley administration.


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