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Former Swain County clerk charged with embezzlement

Former Swain County Clerk of Court employee Rita Robinson Walls has been charged with embezzling $33,283 from the state in 2014.

A grand jury indicted Walls, 56, of Bryson City, in Swain County Superior Court on March 9 on 13 charges of embezzlement. The alleged theft occurred between April and May 2014 — not long before Walls resigned from her position as bookkeeper.

According to the indictments, Walls knowingly took money from state accounts she had access to as an employee and transferred funds into her personal accounts. Between April 8 and May 28, she allegedly made transfers ranging from $900 to $5,330 on a semi-regular basis.  

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the charges. District Attorney Ashley Welch said she couldn’t comment on the pending case other than to say she would not be asking another DA office to handle the case.

“A Swain County assistant DA will be prosecuting the case,” she said. 

Hester Sitton, Swain County Clerk of Court, said she couldn’t comment on the pending investigation and referred all questions about Wall’s employment and the case to Sharon Gladwell, communications director for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh. 

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Gladwell provided details of Walls’ employment but would not comment on how the embezzlement was discovered or any other details.  

According to state records, Walls was hired as a deputy clerk Oct. 1, 1993 at a salary of $16,560. She was promoted to deputy clerk/bookkeeper in December 2002 with a salary of $29,895. She remained in that position until Jan. 1, 2009, when her title changed to assistant clerk. She was making $46,087 when she resigned May 29, 2014.  

Walls is scheduled to appear in Swain County court at 10 a.m. May 27.


Looking closer

Rita Robinson Walls, former Swain County Clerk of Court employee, has been charged with 13 counts of embezzlement. According to a grand jury indictment, the alleged thefts occurred on these dates in 2014: 

  • April 8 — $3,219
  • April 9 — $3,146
  • April 15 — $1,154
  • April 17 — $2,491
  • April 22 — $1,166
  • April 23 — $2,910
  • April 25 — $3,761
  • May 2 — $1,102
  • May 16 — $900
  • May 21 — $5,330
  • May 23 — $4,584
  • May 27 — $2,454
  • May 28 — $1,065

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