JUDGE: Former Housing Director Can't Leave State

A former housing authority director, accused of pocketing public money, has been ordered not to leave the state.

Rhonda Smith made her first court appearance Thursday morning in Carteret County District Court.

She was arrested earlier this week on four counts of embezzlement and two counts of corporate malfeasance. Police say the total amount missing from the Beaufort Housing Authority is almost $80,000.

In court, the judge told the 53-year-old woman she cannot travel out of state and that she cannot get a passport. Smith is free on a $100,000 bond.

Her next court date is March 5th.

A former housing authority director is accused of stealing thousands of dollars in public money.

Rhonda Smith of Beaufort is charged with four counts of embezzlement and two counts of corporate malfeasance.

Police say the investigation began in November when Smith was questioned about improper expenditures on the authority's credit card.

The 53-year-old Smith was placed on leave as executive director of the Beaufort Housing Authority on December 8th.

Police say part of their investigation revealed that Smith was "grossly overpaid" in the amount of $44,160.27 between 2007 and 2009. Authorities also say she misused credit cards amounting to almost $13,000, and gave herself extra vacation amounting to $6393. The total amount of money allegedly misused is $79,279.95.

The SBI assisted with the case.

Police say they found few effective internal controls in place at the housing authority. Even though the board voted in 2007 to require two signatures on all checks, police say that never happened and all checks were signed by Smith.

Authorities say Smith reviewed her own credit card statement without any independent review.

Last year police say Smith was supposed to receive 120 hours of vacation, but instead she took 310 hours. That same year police say she bought an airline ticket with authority funds and later exchanged it for a round-trip ticket to Honolulu for vacation.

Police also say Smith paid her personal taxes to the IRS with a housing authority credit card, as well as drafting a payment from their checking account. The total there was $9,132.25.

Smith posted a $100,000 bond and was released from jail.

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