I know that this story is already a week old, but I have been focused on national stuff.
From Cecil Bothwell (local free-lance writer):
Lest we forget, the just completed federal trial of former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford is only one part of the corruption evident in his administration. In fact, the trial opened new questions about Buncombe County government. Here are the questions I will continue to ask.
1. Payroll fraud
I told county commissioners about verifiable allegations of payroll fraud in Medford’s department in late 2004. I have sources on and off the record who say they were ordered by Medford to falsify records. Now, evidence introduced in the trial has documented outright fraud by Medford concerning his own work hours. After spending 162 work days at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino during his last year in office he claimed and received $20,000 in back pay for vacation time he “never used.” Uh huh. He took fellow employees, notably his secretary Sharon Stewart, with him on many occasions. How much vacation time did she claim?
2. Guns and drugs and money
We still have no accounting for the stuff missing from the department evidence locker in the interim between Medford’s exit and Sheriff Van Duncan’s entry to the building. Over 300 guns missing, with my sources indicating that Medford sold at least some of those guns to Jackie Shepherd and gave away others. Drugs from over 1,000 evidence bags vanished. About $200,000 in cash, nowhere to be found. Most grievous of all were the unlabeled rape kits. Have any prosecutions been diverted due to that missing evidence?
And why didn’t the District Attorney’s office know that the evidence from so many cases was missing?
3. The rest of the gambling money
The trial involved perhaps 150-200 video poker machines in the county. When I reported on the industry in 2005 I found more than 520 machines, and I’m sure I couldn’t account for them all. Are we supposed to believe that the corruption which involved Henderson Amusement, Hot Dog King, Mountain Music and Western Amusement together with the handful of shop owners who appeared as witnesses comprise ALL of the gambling industry in the county? What about the football pools and other organized gaming including big stakes poker in which Medford is said by multiple sources to have involved himself?
And what about the $1,000 payoff to “Buncombe County Commission” reported by two witnesses at the trial? Was it one commissioner? Which one? More than one?
4. Ongoing video gaming
I have already received two separate reports that video gambling is back in operation in at least three locations in the county. The new twist is reportedly that players are issued a phone card and credits are accumulated on the card. The putative claim is that the transactions occur on the internet and so do not qualify as local gaming, but cash has been changing hands according to my sources.
Stay tuned. This opera ain’t over yet.