Town reports recovered drug money misspent

Mooresville has notified the U.S. Attorney's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation that money recovered in drug investigations may have been misspent by the Police Department's Cops for Kids program.

Town officials announced Friday that $4,862 had been used in 2002 to transport 37 youth and 21 chaperones to New York City to tour the site of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

The money isn't supposed to be used on travel, Town Attorney Steve Gambill told the Observer.

An undisclosed amount of additional money paid for similar travel, an ongoing inquiry has found, town officials said.

Town staff and an auditor hired by the town discovered the problem while reviewing a financial spreadsheet in the Police Department, Gambill said.

Police Chief John Crone was suspended and later fired this summer during the inquiry. Crone has maintained that he did nothing wrong and that the matter may involve only sloppy bookkeeping.

Under Crone, Cops for Kids accepted donations, held fundraisers and sponsored educational field trips, a Christmas party with Santa and other events to improve relations between police and young people in the community. It was registered in 2001 as a nonprofit corporation with the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State.

Maia Setzer, the town's director of administration and finance, has supervised and directed the internal inquiry into Cops for Kids and will continue to cooperate with the SBI as the agency continues its investigation, Town Manager Steve Husemann said.

The town also has contracted with an accounting firm for a secondary financial investigation. That audit will likely be completed in late October, Husemann said.