Mayor subject of SBI probe
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The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation recently completed an inquiry into allegations that High Point Mayor Bernita Sims passed a worthless check to a family member involving an estate.
Sims’ sister, Annie Ponce, reported to High Point police on March 13 that Sims had given her a $7,000 check in November 2012 that was returned due to insufficient funds.
Police referred the matter to the SBI, where agents launched an investigation that concluded April 23. The SBI findings were delivered to the District Attorney, who asked that the Special Prosecutions Unit of the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office handle the case going forward, according to an SBI spokeswoman.
A bounced check involving an amount more than $2,000 is considered a felony under state law.
Sims declined to comment on the case. She indicated that she will have a response once the matter is resolved by the authorities.
Ponce, of High Point, said Sims gave her the check as part of the settlement of the estate of their sister, Virginia Sims of Maryland, who died in 2008. Ponce said Sims was the executor of the estate and was under a court order to give Ponce a portion of her share of the estate when she gave her the check.
Ponce took the check to a local bank the day she received it to try and deposit it, and said she learned there wasn’t enough money to cover it in the account on which it was written. Ponce said she told Sims this before she was sworn in as mayor in December 2012.
“I told her the check wasn’t any good,” said Ponce.
Ponce said she and an attorney she consulted continued to reach out to Sims over a period of several weeks to no avail to try to resolve the matter before she went to the police in March.
High Point police Chief Marty Sumner said he immediately referred Ponce’s allegations to the SBI, to avoid any possible conflict of interest since the case involved an allegation against a city elected official.
Local prosecutors decided to take the same approach by sending the case to the Attorney General’s office.
“(Special prosecutors are) reviewing the SBI report. They will be the ones to make the decision about whether to bring charges and prosecute,” said Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Justice.
Sims was elected mayor in November 2012. Prior to that, she served nine years on the City Council.