Freeman denies accusations

Published 9:32 am Thursday, July 12, 2012

WINDSOR – The man at the center of a controversy in Monday’s meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners said the accusations made against him are personal, as well as false.

Michael Freeman said in an interview Tuesday that accusations of corruption made by Commission Vice Chairman J. Wallace Perry were not true.

In Monday’s meeting, Perry opposed Freeman’s reappointment to the Bertie County ABC Board. (See related story this page.) Perry said Freeman had instructed the ABC Store Manager in Windsor to hire his (Freeman’s) nephew.

“Michael has broken my trust and, I believe, the trust of this board,” Perry said. “He hired his nephew, or instructed the manager of the ABC Store to hire him, without filling out an application, without interviewing or anything.”

During an interview, Freeman categorically denied the allegations.

“None of that is true,” he said. “There is an application on file. We advertised the job. He had experience in retail sales and that is the reason he was hired.”

Freeman said the position is a part-time job.

He also said Perry’s attack on him was personal.

“You consider the source,” Freeman said. “Wallace Perry has had it in for me since the Board of Elections made a ruling with the situation with Harvey Ginn. He had it out for me since then.

“As a matter of fact, he tried to block my reappointment to the Board of Elections, but he found out he didn’t have the power to do that,” Freeman alleged.

Freeman said Ginn, who was the Republican nominee for Perry’s District 3 seat on the Commission, was ruled to have lived in the district and to be a legal candidate for the seat. Perry defeated Ginn by nearly 1,800 votes in November of 2010.

“The Department of Justice had maps from the census and the maps showed he (Ginn) lived in the district,” Freeman said. “That’s the ruling that was made.”

During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners tabled Freeman’s reappointment until it could be determined if Perry’s accusations were true. Freeman said he believed the ABC Board would be able to offer the verification the commissioners needed.

The records of all employees of public bodies are confidential, according to state statute, unless the employee allows those records to be made public. Freeman said he believed the ABC Board would be able to show the records to commissioners, however.

As for the reappointment, Freeman said he would accept if the commissioners chose to reappoint him.

“When I was first appointed John Ed Whitehurst was the County Manager and he suggested to a commissioner that I serve,” Freeman said. “They voted to put me on the board. After several terms, I was going to get off the board, but (Commissioner) Rick Harrell said he wanted me to continue to serve. That’s why I am still there.

“As far as being reappointed, yes, I would serve,” Freeman said.