Case of alleged embezzlement going to grand jury

Published 10:46 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A judge certified the three charges of alleged embezzlement against the former town clerk of Ivor on Tuesday afternoon. The matter goes next to a grand jury, which is scheduled to meet next on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Jennifer Bumgardner of Zuni, who was arrested on Aug. 16 for the aforementioned charges, was in  Southampton General District Court that day for the preliminary hearing. Her attorney, Bassel Khalaf, was with her.

As previously reported, the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office alleges that Bumgardner embezzled over $22,000. The dates that said violations allegedly took place are June 28, May 16 and April 24 of this year.

First on the witness stand was Ivor Mayor Tara Kea, who said that soon after beginning her term, which started on July 1, she started gathering paperwork to get acclimated to her new work.

“Several things caught my eye which didn’t add up, so to speak,” she told the assistant commonwealth’s attorney W. Fuller Stoddard, who first questioned her.

Bumgardner, she said, served as both town clerk and treasurer, doing both secretarial work as well as keeping books for the general, water and cemetery accounts.

Kea became concerned by what seemed to be discrepancies in the books, and the matter was turned over to accounting firm of Britt and Peake, which she later added did a thorough examination over the course of several weeks.

Khalaf asked how long the two women had known each other, to which Kea said about five or six years, potentially longer. Their children have played in the same athletic group. But that had been a personal association, not a professional one, she added.

The issue then went to the Sheriff’s Office for investigation. Lt. Camden Cobb, who later wrote the criminal complaint, stated that Bumgardner as town clerk had endorsed and cashed or deposited a check on June 28 written to her for payroll for $1,108.20, but gave a transaction report to town council showing she was paid only $900.41; On May 16, Bumgardner had endorsed or cashed or deposited a check for $1,800, but showed council that it had been written to Southern Software. On April 24, she had endorsed or cashed or deposited a check for $1,108.20, but presented the report to council showing it was for $554.10.

Cobb, who was the next witness, told about the warrants being served at her home on the morning of Aug. 16. He was accompanied at the time by a few other members of the office, such as deputies.

Bumgardner’s husband asked if he could be with her during the interview, but Cobb noted then that there was a juvenile present, and that husband should be with the child while Bumgardner is being interviewed.

He told the court that she gave multiple reasons why there might be errors, such as making mistakes, and not being good at her job.