State auditor R. Thomas Wagner Jr. has confirmed his office has found a number of irregularities during its investigation into the town of Kenton’s finances. The official report on the investigation is not yet completed, however, and no arrests have been made. Additionally, Wagner said a definitive dollar figure on the losses is pending final documentation from a credit card company. Wagner said the problems apparently took place during the term of former town treasurer Stephanie Mickle.

 


State auditor R. Thomas Wagner Jr. has confirmed his office has found a number of irregularities during its investigation into the town of Kenton’s finances.

The official report on the investigation is not yet completed, however, and no arrests have been made.

Additionally, Wagner said a definitive dollar figure on the losses is pending final documentation from a credit card company.

Wagner said the problems apparently took place during the term of former town treasurer Stephanie Mickle.

“We have are putting the final touches on a report, finalizing the numbers, but it appears to be about $200,000 in apparent theft by the former treasurer of the town of Kenton.” Wagner said.

Mickle was forced to resign her post in April by members of the Kenton town council, Wagner said; her resignation was followed in August by the departure of her husband, Robert Mickle, the town’s mayor.

Calls to the Mickle home requesting comment on the investigation were not returned.

The investigation into the town’s finances began following Stephanie Mickle’s resignation after two council members, now-Mayor Paul Caple and Secretary Jacob Tice said they had asked for, but could not obtain the town’s financial records.

“They came to us [in May] and we opened an investigation,” Wagner said. “Immediately we found the signs of fraud and went immediately to the attorney general’s office. We worked with them to put the case tighter.”

Among the problems, Wagner said, was that it appeared a cell phone tower and the land on which it was built was improperly sold and that records were falsified to cover up the sale.

The sale deprived the town of approximately $1,650 in monthly rental income, he said.
In addition, the investigation showed premiums on Kenton’s liability insurance had not been paid, meaning any losses caused by fraud would not be covered.

Reached at his home, Caple said he was complying with the advice of the town solicitor in not commenting on the allegations.

Department of Justice spokesman Jason Miller also declined to comment on Wagner’s remarks, except to say that contrary to some reports, Mickle was not under arrest.