A former judge will likely serve as Wake County’s register of deeds, whose office is being investigated after officials discovered a “substantial” amount of money missing.
The Wake County Republican Party voted Monday night to nominate Charles Gilliam to replace Laura Riddick as register of deeds. Riddick, a Republican who has been elected to six consecutive terms, retired this month, citing health concerns.
The Wake County district attorney and county manager announced March 31 that they have asked the State Bureau of Investigation to open a probe of the Wake County Register of Deeds Office. They did not disclose how much money is missing but said Riddick’s retirement is unrelated to the investigation.
State law says the Wake Board of Commissioners “shall consult” the political party of a departing register to find a replacement. Commissioners are likely to vote on Gilliam’s nomination at their meeting April 17.
Gilliam is a Thomasville native who worked as an attorney for 30 years, according to his Wake County Bar Association profile. Former Gov. Pat McCrory appointed him to serve as a Wake County district judge in 2014.
The Wake GOP considered seven people who sought the position, said Charles Hellwig, the party’s chairman. Hellwig said they were all qualified but that Gilliam was “above reproach.”
“He will make an outstanding register of deeds and is the right person to take the job at this time,” Hellwig said. “He’ll be a great leader who will make the citizens of Wake County proud.”
The Register of Deeds Office records legal documents and maps, issues marriage licenses and vital records certificates, certifies documents and administers notary public oaths.
Gilliam is a former assistant general counsel for Xerox Corp. who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 for the district court seat held by Judge Anna Worley. He then worked as a professor of business law and corporate finance at the N.C. State University School of Management before being appointed as a district court judge.
It’s unclear what role, if any, Gilliam will have in the SBI investigation. Hellwig suggested the turmoil played a role in the GOP’s selection.
“Our committee heard them, asked questions, had a good discussion, and then chose Judge Gilliam,” Hellwig said of the seven candidates. “We believe he is the right person, especially given the current investigation.”
Gilliam said in a statement that he’s praying for Riddick as she goes through a rough time with her health.
“I am honored to accept the appointment as Wake County Register of Deeds and I pledge to provide the people of our county with the reliable service they deserve,” Gilliam said.