FIRST ON 3: Local News Review uncovers forgery allegation against Navassa mayor
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NAVASSA, NC (WWAY) -- Forgery. That's the word Navassa's Mayor Pro Tem used to justify the town council stripping Mayor Eulis Willis of much of his authority. The Local News Review has been working for weeks to uncover the truth behind this story.

In 2007, the Town of Navassa received an $850,000 community development block grant from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, which was to be used largely to pay for water and sewer improvements. One stipulation was that the town was required to get right of way agreements from private property owners. That's where things appear to have gone wrong.

Jerry and Ruthlene Freeman owned some of the property the town needed to access for the infrastructure improvements, but they told the Navassa Town Council they never signed the Deed of Easement granting access to their property.

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Ballard says if they didn't sign it, someone forged it. Because Willis was in charge of this project, a cloud of suspicion is over him, and his fellow town council members decided to strip Mayor Willis of his duties, as they are allowed to do by state law under certain circumstances.

Patricia White is the notary public who signed the deed in question. We called her to verify that Jerry and Ruthlene Freeman signed the document she notarized. White told us she was instructed not to discuss that document. She declined to tell us who gave her those instructions, and refused to verify that the Freemans had signed the deed in her presence.

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I can only pray that justice is served. In this day of "Identity Theft" one would expect more of a public official. A man is innocent until proven guilty, however it has been understood that the persons to whom the offense was made came forward with the information, the Council did not seek them out. It is unfortunate that the notary did not choose to adhere to their oath. This was not a "hunt" for wrong doing. There are a some in the town who would like the neighboring communities to believe that this is about a bickering board with ill will. This is not the case. I encourage all in the town an abroad to first attend an actual Town Hall meeting and listen to the facts as presented and not feed ignorance, perhaps then Navassa can move forward.

I think this is a very bad situation. The council is trying to find anything bad to use against this man instead not only are you ruining other people but also the town. You need to be careful how you conduct business. The people behind this bad rumor may be laughing now, but u just don't go around hurting and trying to destroy people lives. God sit high and look low. Who are we to judge. He who has no sin cast the first stone.

Surely you jest. The individuals who own the property step forward and state the signatures are not theirs.

That's forgery if someone else signed their names to the document in question and did not have a power of attorney to act on their behalf.

Add the notary public who notarized the document; and now can not state whether those persons were present when she notarized the document. Nor can she state who was present when she notarized the document. If she notarized a document, and the signers were not present, she's in a deep vat of doo doo. And if the signatures prove to be forgeries, the vat gets deeper.

And that may explain why she makes no comments.

You must be one of Charlie Rangel's defenders if this is your approach to a criminal investigation.

I don't think anyone is trying to point fingers at this point. Speaking of God "what is done in the dark, shall come to the light". That said, the council did the right thing and could have (should have) done a lot more, considering the Mayor himself admitted to the forgery. Who are we to judge? I agree with you there because we all are sinners but right is right and wrong is wrong. If those who do wrong mistakenly often get punished and the "mighty mayor" is no different.

...always has been, always will be. You're just now in realization of these tactics?

lets get the backhoe so we can get dirt on saffo and get rid of him lets follow.

The "Notary's" criminal defense attorney probably told her to button up her yapper... Notarizing a forged document. Hmmmmmmmmmm...