Local/State

Police investigate Raleigh Business and Technology Center

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A local nonprofit designed to help small businesses is now the focus of a criminal investigation.

Last week, it was reported that the Raleigh Business and Technology Center was being audited. Now, some are wondering if criminal charges will be filed.

ABC11 has learned that police are looking for evidence of two specific crimes -- embezzlement and obtaining property by false.

Raleigh investigators showed up at the Business and Technology Center on Monday just a week after an audit by the City of Raleigh found hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable loans and payments.

According to the search warrant and the audit, almost $4,000 was loaned to the center's Executive Director, Robert Robinson, who has since resigned. There were also payments of almost $300,000 to a group co-founded by Robinson. Another $13,000 went to a church where a board member is pastor.

The police confiscated computers, hard drives, thumb drives, paper records.

The audit also revealed other problems including more than $57,000 in back payroll taxes owed to the IRS.

The City of Raleigh backed the development of the small business incubator more than a decade ago and the Mayor Nancy McFarlane is disappointed in the recent developments.

"We were stunned. People were just stunned," said McFarlane. "We never thought that this& seems like fraud and abuse would be going on."

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby says it was the chairman of the center's board, a former assistant city manager, who brought concerns to the attention of authorities.

Willoughby says his office is working with Raleigh police on the investigation, but it remains to be seen whether criminal charges will be filed.

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wake county, local/state, ed crump
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