A married couple have been arrested and charged with counts of embezzlement, forgery, and conspiracy to commit fraud after an accounts payable audit revealed illegal financial activity in the records of Bryson City Fire Department and the East Swain Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
North Carolina's Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations and State Bureau of Investigation announced the arrests of Joseph and Cylena Hughes. Mr. Hughes is facing charges of embezzlement of greater than $100,000, common law forgery, and conspiracy to commit larceny. His wife is charged with forgery of endorsement, embezzlement, and larceny of chose in action. The investigation lasted 10 months and both defendants have been indicted by a grand jury.
According to the Citizen-Times, Mr. Hughes served as the fire chief for the Bryson City Fire Department. After discrepancies were discovered in the business' financial records, he was fired from his position. Further examination discovered the alleged theft from the East Swain Parent Teacher Organization. With all of their counts combined, the couple face nearly 50 felony charges. The state's Department of Insurance was involved in the matter due to Mr. Hughes being accused of 10 counts of making a false statement to the insurance commissioner.