ALE probe clears Durham ABC board, employees

jwise@newsobserver.comAugust 13, 2013 

— After a 15-month investigation, the state Alcohol Law Enforcement Section has found “no malfeasance or criminal conduct” by the Durham County ABC Board.

Assistant ALE Director Alan Fields, who did the investigation, also wrote that Durham ABC General Manager Emily Page had “upheld her duties owed to the public.”

ALE released its report Tuesday to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, which will review the report “and has no additional comment to provide at this time,” spokeswoman Agnes Stevens said.

Durham ABC officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Michael Herring, chief administrator of the state ABC, requested the investigation in May 2012 after hearing allegations of secret board meetings, improper use of credit cards, altering of board minutes and contracts being awarded to board members’ friends.

Page resigned in May but is remaining in the job while the board seeks her replacement. No reason for her resignation has been announced.

Among the incidents Fields’ report describes are use of a Durham ABC credit card to pay for a hotel room by former board member Erroll Reese, for which Reese later reimbursed the ABC; and a computer-services contract award to a firm referred to the Durham board by Reese.

The 86-page report includes detailed accounts of Fields’ interviews with Page, ABC Board Chairwoman Kim Shaw, Reese and other board members and Durham ABC employees.

It suggests that adjusting to Page’s management philosophy – described as “eye on business” – has been difficult for some employees, following the administration of former ABC Manager Randy Mills.

The report concludes, though, that Page “diligently worked to maintain stewardship over assets and properly protect funds of the Durham County ABC Board.”

Wise: 919-641-5895

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