Crime & Courts

Rowan commissioner accused of making copies on county machine

An SBI investigation has resulted in a misdemeanor larceny charge for Rowan County Commissioner Jon Barber, who has been charged with using a county-owned copying machine to make personal copies.

In January, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook told WBTV that a complaint over Barber’s use of the copier had been moved to a special prosecutor’s program called the NC Conference of District Attorneys Financial Crimes Initiative to deal with such allegations.

The investigation was later turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation.

The summons was served Tuesday.

In January 2013, Barber was confronted in closed session by commissioners over his use of the county copier. At that time, Commissioner Jim Sides said that Barber apologized and made assurances that the act would not happen again.

In September, Sides told WBTV that he had reason to believe that Barber had been making more copies on the county’s dime, so commissioners voted to begin a censure investigation.

Barber said at the time that he believed the investigation was political payback for his vocal support of some initiatives backed by the city of Salisbury that were at odds with other commissioners. Commissioners denied the political nature of the investigation.

In November, county staffers said Barber had made more than 4,000 copies on a county copying machine. The report indicated the copies were for Barber’s business, My Farm Fresh Marketplace.

According to the report, copies were frequently made over the weekend, and often the toner would run out.

Board clerk Carolyn Barger was quoted in the report saying that jobs left in the copier after Barber had gone indicated he was using the copier to promote his business.

“We came in, our copier in the work area was jammed and also out of toner,” Barger wrote. “So when we repaired all the jams and replaced toner, the machine kicked in with the current copy jobs. It was a color flyer for Commissioner Barber’s business or apparently for a huge event he was running the flyer for that was at Farm Fresh Produce, his business.”

Barber was scheduled to be in court Wednesday.

WBTV reached out to Barber and his attorney Tuesday night, but messages were not immediately returned.

WBTV is a media partner of The Charlotte Observer.