One of the women accused of embezzling from the Pitt County Sheriff's Office had won $1 million in a lottery just a few years ago.
According to the North Carolina Education Lottery, Evon Garris (pictured left), of Ayden, bought a winning Powerball ticket in April 2008 and won $1 million. Garris had told the NCEL that she planned to use the money for her retirement fund, to take care of her parents, and to go on a cruise.
But the 60-year-old Garris is now accused of embezzling from the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, where she had worked as a civilian employee.
Garris, along with 40-year-old Melissa Peaden, of Winterville, turned themselves in to the Pitt County Detention Center Tuesday morning. Garris has been charged with 14 counts of embezzlement, while Peaden has been charged with 12 counts of embezzlement. A grand jury indicted both suspects on Nov. 12.
According to the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, they discovered discrepancies in their civil processing receipts several months ago, prompting the State Bureau of Investigation to look into the case.
The SBI determined that Garris and Peaden, two long-time employees of the Sheriff's Office, had "systematically taken money that was received in the front office of the Pitt County Sheriff's Office in payment for civil services," a PCSO news release stated.
"Individuals who paid for concealed weapon permits received the permits for which they had paid, and individuals received the other services for which they had remitted payment," said Sheriff Neil Elks. "The victim in this case was the Sheriff's Office itself."
There was no word on how much money was allegedly stolen.
Both suspects were civilian employees of the Sheriff’s Office. According to investigators, Garris had been employed at the office from September 1986 to June 2001. She was rehired in September 2002 and worked there until June 2013.
Peaden had been employed at the Sheriff's Office from July 2009 until June 2013.
Both resigned immediately when the allegations surfaced, according to the Sheriff's Office.