LAURINBURG — The State Bureau of Investigation seized employment records from Gryphon Group Security Solutions earlier this month to determine the accuracy of Sheriff Shep Jones’ report to the county finance office regarding funds received from deputies working off-duty for the military training company.
C.G. Cardwell, the assistant special agent in charge of the SBI financial crimes unit, obtained a search warrant signed by Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens on April 2 allowing seizure of employment records relevant to the employment of county deputies in providing site security for Gryphon Group, including contracts, timesheets, checks, and listings of payments made since 2011.
“I believe this information establishes probable cause that Sheriff Shep Jones violated G.S. 159-32 Daily Deposits, that records exist at Gryphon Group Security Solutions, LLC, and those records contain evidence of the alleged crime,” the warrant reads.
The state Daily Deposit Act requires that monies collected by public employees as officers of a local government should be deposited with the finance officer or in an official depository and reported to the finance officer in the form of a duplicate deposit ticket.
Jones could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Since August 2011, Scotland County sheriff’s deputies have worked off-duty to provide site security at Gryphon Group, with deputies remitting a portion of their hourly pay to the sheriff’s office as reimbursement for use of a county vehicle. From August 2011 to June 2012, deputies turned over $5 per hour worked at Gryphon Group to the sheriff’s office. In June 2012, when Gryphon decreased pay from $30 per hour to $25, that amount decreased to $4.
From 2011 to September 2013, the sheriff collected a total of $53,000 from deputies working off-duty at Gryphon Group and in a similar arrangement with Troy Construction in 2012.
The warrant also states that states that, per an interview with Chief Deputy Mitch Johnson, Johnson secured cash submitted by deputies in his office, using it to pay for a fuel account at Nic’s Pic Kwik and for other departmental expenses on “a reimbursement basis.”
Johnson also said that on multiple occasions, each time approved by Jones, he disbursed cash to Jones, Captain James Pegues, and administrative assistant Sheronica Smith. The amount of cash given to them was not tracked, and Johnson told SBI agents that he did not know how those monies were spent.
According to an inventory of seized items, as a result of the warrant the SBI obtained a thumb drive containing copies of time sheets and checks for sheriff’s deputies’ off-duty work at Gryphon Group.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.