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Commissioners To Question Jones On Crockett Settlement

Mecklenburg County Commissioners plan to press County Manager Harry Jones tonight about a $63,000 settlement to former Area Mental Health Director Grayce Crockett. The controversy thickened over the weekend when Jones released another former employee's payout information, that of Commissioner Jim Pendergraph. Commissioners first began questioning Crockett's $100,000 payout after the Charlotte Observer reported that was how much the county owed her in vacation and sick time. But that wasn't the case. The newspaper did the math and realized despite what Deputy County Attorney Tyrone Wade said Crockett couldn't have racked up that much vacation and sick time. Most of it was actually a settlement that was paid in addition to vacation and sick leave. County Manager Harry Jones said it was in the best financial interest of the county. Crockett resigned in December after a federal audit blamed her department for mismanaging a contractor that provided housing to the mentally ill. Several commissioners criticized Jones for signing off on the settlement without consulting them. Pendergraph was one of the harsher critics of this and the county's policy of paying for unused vacation and sick leave. Then over the weekend in an email to county commissioners Jones released information about Pendergraph's payout when he retired as Sheriff in 2007. Jones says Pendergraph was paid for an additional 148 hours above what county policy allows. He says he released the information after Commissioner George Dunlap requested it. Pendergraph told the Observer he didn't ask for the extra money and called it a smoke screen. Commisioners will discuss the matter in closed session before tonight's commission meeting.