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Wake sheriff's investigator accused of embezzlement

The News & Observer Publishing Company,
BLINE: Thomasi McDonald - Staff writer
Link to Article

Wake County, NC

RALEIGH -- The State Bureau of Investigation arrested a Wake County sheriff's investigator in early April, saying that she had taken over $6,000 from the sheriff's evidence control room, according to records made public today.

Investigators have accused Balinda Manley, a criminal investigator with the sheriff's office since 2004, of taking $6,435 and then replacing the currency packet with "a quantity of bulky filler material and two one dollar bills," according to a search warrant filed today at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.

The SBI charged Manley, a criminal investigator with the sheriff's office since 2004, with two counts of embezzlement and possession with intent to sell marijuana.

On March 9, the Wake County District Attorney's office emailed sheriff's deputy A.M. Sternberg. The prosecutors wanted Sternberg, who is the sheriff's office evidence custodian, to submit drugs from a narcotics case Manley was investigating, court records show.

Sternberg stated in the court affidavit that on June 1, 2010, Manley signed out of evidence drugs and more than $6,000 in cash for a court case and returned them.

Sternberg stated that Manley signed the drugs and case out again on July 6, 2010, again for court purposes, but the items were not returned to the evidence room.

Sternberg reported that she returned the drugs on March 24 of this year, but not the money. Sternberg said he instructed Manley to turn in the cash the next day. On March 29, Manley returned an evidence packet that she claimed was the cash evidence from the case, Sternberg stated in the affidavit.

One day later, Sternberg and two other sheriff's investigators broke open the currency packet seals, finding filler materials and $2, court records show.

On April 5, sheriff's investigators found in Manley's patrol car a N.C. State Employees Credit Union deposit receipt showing a Jan. 3, 2010 deposit for $1,800 and a July 8, 2010 receipt for a $940 deposit, court records show.

The embezzlement charges filed on April 8 by the SBI identify 80 grams of marijuana, valued at $900, and $6,433 in cash. Both had been held as case evidence under Manley's name, according to arrest warrants. She also was charged with possessing 570 grams of marijuana with intent to sell.

Manley, 34, had worked as an investigator for the sheriff's office since April 2004. Her job title was deputy sheriff of criminal investigations.

She was released from custody at the Wake County jail the same day of her arrest after posting a $7,000 bond, a jail spokeswoman reported today.

The sheriff's office fired Manley the same day she was arrested, Phyllis Stephens, a sheriff's spokeswoman said today.

Stephens said the department asked the SBI to investigate after a routine evidence audit of Manley's unit showed irregularities.

Sheriff's investigators obtained the search warrant to review Manley's banking accounts, court records show.

The sheriff's office could not be reached for comment this afternoon regarding Manley's employment status with the sheriff's office.
or (919) 829-4533

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