Handling of Dobson town funds questioned

First Posted: 5/28/2009

DOBSON Dobson officials refused to comment yesterday about allegations that a town employee misappropriated town funds for personal use.
The Mount Airy News has obtained documents which a source alleges shows that Town Manager Lynn Burcham used town funds for personal use, sometimes replacing the funds at a later date. The documents show allegedly hand-written notes written by Burcham, or on her behalf, showing how much money had been taken out, and at times showing some of the funds had been replaced.
There also are notes which allegedly show communications from town employees showing they had paid bills on Burchams behalf, with her knowledge.
Thursday night the Dobson Board of Commissioners discussed the situation, going into a nearly three-hour closed session to discuss personnel matters. However, board members could be heard from one portion of the building discussing Burcham and the allegations.
Burcham remained in the closed session for the majority of the time.
I dont think shes guilty of embezzlement, but (instead) guilty of poor decision making, Commissioner Gerri Martn said.
Later, what appeared to be the same female commissioner speaking also said, I want her to stay in her job, nobody is going to come do a better job.
I want to give her the benefit of a doubt, Mayor Ricky K. Draughn said.
Other board members, as well as Town Attorney Hugh Campbell, could be heard questioning whether the board should approach the countys District Attorneys office, and wondering whos in trouble if word of the allegations become public.
Immediately after the meeting, Draughn Burcham declined to comment, referring questions to Campbell.
I cannot confirm whether thats true or not, Campbell said immediately after the meeting. I cannot make an official comment.
Later, when reached at home, Campbell did make some comment.
I appreciate you giving me a chance to answer, he said when contacted by telephone. I dont know the political answer to that. I just cant comment one way or the other. I can neither confirm nor deny it (the allegation).
He also addressed whether town commissioners could be potentially violating any laws if they had knowledge of any such dealings without reporting those to law enforcement authorities.
I would say the premise of your questions is correct, he said. That if at some point a public body has reliable information I would say so, they would be obligated to report it.
Im not confirming anything has happened, but in general terms, once they have reliable information, it would be the obligation of the public body to go to the proper authorities. Im not saying it is relevant in this situation.
When contacted by telephone at his home last night, Commissioner Wayne Atkins refused to discuss the situation.
Im not going to comment on that right now. I ask that you take those questions to the town attorney.
He also would not deny the allegations against Burcham, or that the board had discussed them.
A woman answering the telephone at Commissioner Lana Brendles home said the commissioner had already gone to bed and was not available. Attempts to reach Commissioners Clinton Dockery and Clarence Collins by telephone were unsuccessful.

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