Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on shenanigans in Tarboro, as revealed in State Auditor Beth Wood’s audit of town spending.

State Auditor Beth Wood said an audit pointing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in misspending by top Tarboro officials should serve as a call for governing boards across North Carolina to ratchet up their oversight of public spending.

“It’s a huge message to cities and councils, that their board members, their commissioners, their city council members are watching their operations,” Wood said Tuesday. “These are the things that council members should have their arms around.”

Wood’s office issued an investigative audit finding numerous violations and irregularities centered on former Tarboro Town Manager Sam Noble.

The investigative audit found that, over a six-year period, Noble made nearly $366,000 in purchases that exceeded the scope of his duties and that he obtained more than $87,000 for universal life insurance premiums without approval of the Tarboro Town Council.

The audit chides Noble for failing to comply with the town’s purchasing policies. The report says that many of the items purchased appeared not to relate to his job as a town administrator.

Among reimbursements Noble received were $15,405 for items purchased at the Apple Store, $19,665 for purchases at Boater’s World, $8,316 for items from Dick’s Sporting Goods, $11,071 for Best Buy, and $8,533 for items purchased at Bass Pro Shops. Items purchased included shirts, coolers, gun holsters, life vests, flashlights, helmets, wetsuits, marine equipment, knives, and jackets.

He also purchased police equipment, including handguns, that were not necessary for his duties, the report says. “A former police chief said there was no reason the former town manager needed all the police equipment and clothing,” the report said.