Charges and Sentencing
Democratic North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors on her final day in office. She was charged with using a state-issued vehicle for personal activities, including hair and dental appointments, shopping trips, and visits to spa locations unrelated to official business. Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway sentenced Wood to a year of unsupervised probation. Wood has also paid over $1,000 in restitution.
Resignation and Background
This marks the end of a turbulent year for Wood, whose misuse of her state vehicle led to her resignation as auditor, a position she had held since 2008. Wood announced her resignation last month, just two days after a grand jury indicted her on the charges. The indictment stated that she had used the state-owned vehicle for personal activities in 2021 and 2022. Wood had previously claimed that she reimbursed the state for her personal use of the car by overpaying for her commuting miles.
Wood’s attorney, Roger Smith Jr., issued a statement on her behalf, expressing her acceptance of responsibility for using the state car for personal reasons. He described the day as “sad” for Wood, who had served the people of North Carolina for 15 years and loved her job. Despite the consequences she has faced, Wood is looking forward to her next chapter.
Criticism and Investigation
During her tenure as auditor, Wood often received both praise and criticism from officials of both parties for her agency’s reviews that exposed the misuse of government funds. The case against her is seen by some as a double standard, as she had held others accountable for their actions but violated the rules herself. The investigation into Wood’s actions began after she was cited in December 2022 for leaving the scene of a crash involving her state-owned vehicle. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run in March and paid fines and court costs.
Succession and Future Elections
Following Wood’s resignation, Democratic Governor Roy Cooper appointed former Wake County Commission Chair Jessica Holmes to complete Wood’s term as auditor until the end of 2024. Holmes has filed to run for the position next year, and several Republicans are also competing for their party’s nomination in the upcoming primary.