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Police eye museum boosters – Financial practices target of probe

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The brewing storm engulfing the booster group for the N.C. Museum of History has triggered yet another investigation.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has asked the Raleigh police to investigate allegations of financial wrongdoing, The News & Observer in Raleigh reports.

Willoughby said he asked for the probe after lawyers for the museum group gave him their own findings.

The internal investigation found evidence that organization funds were mishandled, the group told the newspaper. The group would not say how much money might have been involved.

The Museum of History Associates is a volunteer network of 15,000 members throughout the state and has an annual budget of $2 million.

The group fired its accountant in December and began an internal investigation.

Raleigh Police Captain Michael Longmire would not identify who might be a target of the police investigation, but he told the News & Observer that a complete audit “could reveal that other inappropriate financial transactions have taken place, either by embezzling the money or some other kind of false pretense.”

Betty Ray McCain, the state cultural resources secretary and an appointee of Gov. Jim Hunt, last week said state officials and the Museum Associates would conduct a full review of the group.

In the wake of an earlier report in the Raleigh newspaper, McCain announced that the Museum Associates had agreed to end long-standing financial arrangements that benefited its executive director, Eve Williamson.

Williamson has declined to comment.

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