Published 10:19 am Tuesday, December 11, 2012
GATESVILLE – A long-serving member of the Gates County Board of Education stands charged with embezzlement, but has gone on the record to say he is wrongly accused.
Leslie Spencer Byrum, 54, of Acorn Hill Road, Hobbsville, was arrested last month on two felony counts of exploitation of the elderly. He posted a $3,000 unsecured bond and has a scheduled court date of Jan. 28.
According to Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb, Byrum, an accountant by trade, served an elderly female of the county who is currently residing in a Chowan County rest home.
“Mr. Byrum was in charge of her financial affairs and allegedly removed in excess of $10,000 from her account,” Webb said.
However, Byrum maintains his innocence.
“The true facts will come out in this,” he said. “My wife and I cared for this lady and her husband for over 12 years. To be honest, if I wanted to take something from her, I could have done it long time ago, but I didn’t then and I didn’t now.”
Byrum said he has hired an attorney.
“We feel we have a strong case; we feel confident that the court will rule in my favor,” he stated.
Webb said due to Byrum’s position in the community as an elected official, he chose to have the North Carolina SBI handle the investigation.
“The allegations against Mr. Byrum were reported to us in June or July of this year,” Webb said. “At that time I contacted our District Attorney (Frank Parrish of Elizabeth City) to fill him in on the status of this case and we both decided that the SBI was the best way to handle the investigation.”
An SBI agent from the Greenville office was assigned to the case. Webb said that agent completed his investigation in early November and warrants were drawn based on the findings of that probe into Byrum’s alleged criminal actions.