NC town’s finance director unqualified, filed for bankruptcy

The town of Spring Lake hired a financial director in 2020 without conducting interviews or looking at a resume, though her background included multiple bankruptcies, tax liens, unpaid credit card bills and failed businesses, The News & Observer has learned.

At the time, the town about 50 miles south of Raleigh was already mired in money problems, found by state auditors in a 2016 audit to have spent nearly $500,000 on purchases that were either questionable or in violation of its own policies.

Now a second NC audit reports that the same financial director spent at least $430,112 for personal use, driving the town deeper into its financial hole.

The 2022 report from NC Auditor Beth Wood does not name Gay Tucker, now 63, who was an accounting technician for Spring Lake at the time of her promotion. But the dates of employment and personal details in the report match Tucker’s tenure in Spring Lake, and multiple news outlets have identified her.

In 2020, the town board voted 3-2 to give her charge of Spring Lake’s finances and pay her a $71,000 salary. Alderwoman Fredricka Sutherland objected, saying she had not talked to Tucker and that Tucker had not submitted an application or resume, according to minutes from the meeting.

“I kept pushing that we have experienced individuals in our finance department,” Sutherland, who no longer sits on the board, told the N&O this week. “We asked for her information, for her background, for her to be vetted. The ones that voted for her, they did not force her to give the paperwork.”

Tucker could not be reached by the N&O through various phone numbers, email or at her listed address.

The state’s report and Spring Lake’s minutes show the town unable to complete its own audits on

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