A Raleigh non-profit organization that receives taxpayer funding is the subject of a criminal investigation. An audit released by the city of Raleigh last week revealed improper financial management at the Raleigh Business and Technology Center.
The city allocates $162,000 a year for the program. A city audit alleges possible financial crimes by some board members including missing documentation for checks totaling more than $100,000 and hundreds of thousands of dollars more that went to third parties, again, without proper documentation. That includes $290,000 paid to an organization co-founded by former executive director Bob Robinson.
What's more, the audit revealed the RBTC lost its tax-exempt status in 2012 after managers failed to file 990 tax forms for three years. The audit showed the RBTC now owes $57,500 in state and federal taxes.
Raleigh Police executed a search warrant on Tuesday, seizing documents and computers belonging to RBTC board members.
"After going through some people's computers, I think they'll find some real stuff," RBTC board chairman Lawrence Wray said.
The former assistant city manager for Raleigh says he went straight to police when he learned about the program's financial irregularities.
"I'm not at liberty to say what I think about it," Wray said, "other than what the audit said."
The Center was founded in 2000 as a way to help spur economic growth in Southeast Raleigh by offering training, discounted office space and other tools to people who live there.
Raleigh Police will not comment on whether board members will face criminal charges, but at the very least, it appears the program is ending. Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced the city was terminating its contract with the RBTC at the end of July. She says the city will look at starting a new business incubator program within six months.
Wray hopes the city reconsiders.
"I want them to understand," he said, "that it's not the program that is guilty."
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