State Highway Patrol troopers accused of lying about where they live

A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper gives a driver a speeding ticket on U.S. 64 in Tyrrell County.
A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper gives a driver a speeding ticket on U.S. 64 in Tyrrell County. (Raleigh) News & Observer

Several N.C. State Highway Patrol troopers are accused of lying about where they live when questioned about discrepancies in their mileage reimbursements, State Auditor Beth Wood said in an investigative report released Monday.

The report focused on eight troopers, most of whom ultimately lied about their living situation, according to the report.

All of the troopers live in either Wake or Cumberland counties. One captain commuted 187 miles one way from his home in Wake County to his station in Morganton, by far the longest distance among troopers cited in the report, Wood found. Violations were in 2016.

According to state policy, troopers must maintain their primary home in the county where they’re assigned or within 20 miles of the county.

Most of the troopers initially told Wood’s investigators that they were commuting not from their primary homes but from secondary residences such as apartments, relatives’ homes, rescue squads, fire stations and National Guard stations near their duty stations, according to Wood’s report.

Records, however, showed the troopers were refueling near their primary homes, Wood found. All of the troopers ultimately acknowledged they were driving from their primary residences, she said. They also failed to submit a “Request to Reside Outside County of Assigned Duty Station” for the location of their primary residences, according to the investigative report.

Violations might have jeopardized response times, the report states. The report did not estimate how much the extra mileage might have cost taxpayers.

Supervisors failed to enforce the residency policy and obtain authorization for exceptions as required by the policy, according to the report.

In a Sept. 5 letter to Wood, Erik Hooks, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Safety, said he does not dispute the findings. The violations occurred before he became secretary, Hooks said.

All of the troopers are now in compliance, he said.

The report does not list the names of the troopers, only where they were commuting to and from and the mileage each way.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak