BOLIVIA—Former District Attorney Rex Gore pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in Brunswick County Superior Court on Monday.
Gore, 65, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of willful failure to discharge his duties in relation to allegations he conspired with a former assistant district attorney over a five-year period to submit $14,000 worth of travel expenses.
Gore served as the chief prosecutor for the 13th District for nearly 20 years. He was unseated in a 2010 primary election as DA of Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen counties.
Superior Court Judge Robert Bell sentenced Gore to 12 months supervised probation and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine. Gore is required to surrender his law license for six months.
In August 2012, Gore was indicted on charges of conspiring with former assistant district attorney Elaine Kelley over a five-year period to submit $14,000 worth of false reports “seeking monetary reimbursements for travel expenses that she did not incur and therefore was not entitled to receive,” according to the indictment.
Kelley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor misprision of a felony, essentially a charge of maladministration of public office, in Brunswick County Superior Court in May.
When reached Monday, Gore said he was glad the matter was resolved.
“I always felt it was a matter that could have and should have been cleared up administratively. The state was not out any money because of the unused salary funds I returned month after month. Of course that was not my decision to make,” Gore told Port City Daily.
Gore released the following statement following Monday’s plea:
“I am glad that this issue over an administrative decision I made as District Attorney in 2005 is over. I had been overseeing the office for over 14 years and I thought at the time my decision fell within the discretionary powers of my position. Any mistake made was mine alone. My error should not be used to cast a shadow over the great work that prosecutors and staff in the office of the District Attorney have done over the years and continue to do now under new leadership.
I firmly believed at the time I hired Elaine Kelley that it was within my authority to agree to a compensation package that included payment for 125 miles of the nearly 600 miles she was traveling from home to work each week. In retrospect, I should have just paid her a higher salary, which was a choice I had. However, I believed that the travel expense I approved was more than offset because I was returning to the state all the money I did not use from my allotted salary budget. During Ms. Kelley’s tenure in my office I returned thousands of dollars more each year in unspent salary funds than Ms. Kelley received as travel. I received no monetary benefit from my decision.
However, when I initially offered Ms. Kelley her compensation package, I did not intend the travel allotment to be permanent; it was to last until I gave her a significant raise. Apparently, I did not communicate that clearly to her. If I had routinely reviewed the travel expenses during the five-plus years she was employed, I would have recognized the ongoing mistake. I am embarrassed by, and sorry for, my neglect of that duty of supervision. I should have done better.”
Due to potential conflicts of interest with Gore having served as DA for nearly two decades, an outside prosecutor and judge were brought in for the case. James Coman, a special prosecutor for the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, served as prosecutor, and Bell, a superior court judge from Charlotte, was brought in to hear the case.
Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or email@example.com.