County Accuses Former Alamance Tax Administrator Of Conspiracy

6:27 PM, Nov 30, 2009   |    comments
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Graham, NC -- Did Alamance County's former tax administrator conspire with the owner of an appraisal company to drain thousands of dollars from the county?

That's the allegation Alamance County Attorney Clyde Albright laid out in Superior Court Monday.

It was part of a motion filed after Ronald McCarthy, the owner of RS&M Appraisal Services, Inc., sued the county for $13,750.

WEB EXTRA: Read RS&M's complaint against Alamance County

McCarthy said he is owed the money as the final installment of a contract he had with the county to provide help with the county's revaluation process.

The county filed a motion to dismiss that complaint, allow counterclaims, and add former tax administrator Kim Horton to the case.

WEB EXTRA: Read motions filed by Alamance County

Did the county know Horton worked for RS&M?

Albright said Horton was an employee of RS&M before, during and after the bidding process for the revaluation process.

McCarthy's attorney, Pamela Duffy, said Horton worked for the company before and after the bidding, but not during.

WEB EXTRA: Read RS&M's response to the county's motions

Albright said neither Horton nor McCarthy told county commissioners about her involvement with RS&M. She allegedly assisted the company with revaluations in other counties.

Duffy said Horton did tell Alamance County Commissioners about her relationship to RS&M, both at the time the bid was submitted and at the time she applied for the tax administrator position.

Albright said the contract between RS&M and the county was obtained by "fraud and misrepresentation." He said said the contract should be declared "void ab initio" by the court.

"What difference does it make if she was doing contract work for those other counties? It is not evidence of some big conspiracy or big fraud claim to conceal relevant facts from Alamance County," Duffy said in court Monday.

Albright argued Horton needed the assistance of RS&M because she was spending her time helping other counties.

"To come before this court and say that's not a conspiracy, that's not a valid claim, it flies in the face of common sense and it flies in the face of the law," he told the Judge.

Did Horton and McCarthy conspire?

Alamance County and RS&M entered into a contract on June 4, 2007 with a base fee of $275,000 to be paid in 20 equal installments of $13,750,000.

In court documents, Alamance County's attorney alleges that RS&M President Ronald McCarthy and Tax Administrator Kim Horton "engaged in a plan" in which extra contractual monthly invoices were prepared by McCarthy and sent to and approved by Horton.

A required amendment to the contract for the extra invoices was never written or approved, according to documents.

"In the absence of any written approved contract amendment, Ms. Horton was without legal authority to approve any additional invoices," Albright told WFMY News 2.

The county alleges RS&M overbilled the county and has been overpaid by more than $320,000. That's more than 100 percent of the base contract fee. The county has paid $592,327, according to Albright.

He said in court papers that the overpayments might not have been made, and RS&M's bid might not have been accepted had McCarthy and former Tax Administrator Kim Horton not withheld information.

In court papers filed Monday by Duffy, she said the checks approved each payment to RS&M were signed by the county finance director and a county commissioner. She said no questions were ever raised about the invoices or contract.

Duffy said in the documents, "At no time did the budget for those services exceed the reserves and the services charged by RS&M were encompassed within that pre-audited budget."

She said the contract with RS&M was "never amended because it did not need to be amended due to the fact that the services fell within the pre-audited budget for the original contract."

What happens next?

Superior Court Judge James Spencer will review the documents submitted by Albright and Duffy.

He will decide whether to dismiss the complaint, allow counterclaims and add Horton to the case.

Albright said if the judge decides not to dismiss the complaint, then the case could go to trial.

WFMY News 2 attempted to reach Horton's attorney Monday, but the call was not immediately returned.

WFMY News 2

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