Grand jury wants UNC documents on Easley

Staff WriterAugust 15, 2009 

Subpoenas continue to fly in the wide-ranging federal investigation of former Gov. Mike Easley.

UNC system leaders revealed Friday that they had been ordered by the grand jury to produce documents related to Mary Easley's job at N.C. State University and fundraising she performed among private donors on behalf of the university.

Also, State Auditor Beth A. Wood has received a second subpoena related to the investigation.

UNC officials said they would obviously comply with the subpoena, and also would release the documents to the public once they're compiled.

"We're going to be clear, open and transparent," President Erskine Bowles said. "This is perfectly natural that they want to see what we have."

NCSU hired Mary Easley in 2005, and university leaders elevated her to a $170,000-a-year job last summer. She was later fired amidst a growing uproar over the role that political connections had played in her hiring and promotion. University officials said she was fired because of university budget cuts that are slashing more than 400 jobs.

More than half a dozen other state agencies and individuals are known to have gotten subpoenas or have been visited by federal investigators in the case.

NCSU has received subpoenas to produce documents, and two former administrators who resigned after become entangled in the case -- former Provost Larry Nielsen and former Chancellor James Oblinger -- were ordered to testify before the grand jury. Other state agencies ordered to hand over documents so far include the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Highway Patrol and the Ports Authority.

The auditor's office got its first subpoena in May seeking an "inquiry, audit, and/or investigation into the hiring of Mary Easley" as well as a report generated from that investigation. That investigation apparently isn't complete.

Dennis Patterson, a spokesman for the Auditor's Office, said Friday that the second subpoena sought correspondence related to Mary Easley's job between Wood or her chief deputy, Wesley Ray, and NCSU officials. It also sought information about contacts between Wood and Ray and the Easleys, as well as relevant video or audio recordings.

Staff writers Eric Ferreri andJ.AndrewCurliss contributed tothisstory.

jay.price@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4526

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