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Union County School Board Asks Sheriff To Investigate Colleague

Lisa Worf

The Union County Public School board voted yesterday to file a criminal complaint regarding one of its board members.  The board says it appears Marce Savage stole $2,600 from taxpayers by double-dipping and filing false mileage reports. 

First, the board censured Savage a couple weeks ago. Then, it turned over her expense requests to the Sheriff. Yesterday, the board approved this motion from board member Rick Pigg:   

“I’ll make a motion that the chair file a complaint to the Union county sheriff’s department for the theft of taxpayer money by Ms. Marce Savage.” 

He made the motion after the chair of the board’s financial committee Michael Guzman laid out his analysis of Savage’s mileage and expense requests, including those she made as a state board of education member.  He pointed out 29 instances of problems with those records that amounted to $2,600 in overages. 

Guzman said over the last year-and-a-half it appears she billed both the state and local district for mileage on some trips, recorded a few multiple times, and asked for reimbursement on trips there’s no record of her making.

In one instance she billed the state $161 for a trip to Edenton about 300 miles away.  That was for the announcement that the chief communications officer for Union county schools was to be superintendent of that district. 

“We asked if he had any interaction with Ms. Savage on that date and he said he doesn’t recall seeing and interacting with her at that event,” said Guzman. 

The board began looking into Savage’s travel records after she cancelled a September committee meeting at the last minute, citing state duties.  But that explanation didn’t seem to make sense to board members.

School board member Sherry Hodges said digging into Savage’s records has been a painful process.

“Not only am I a board member who has had to spend a lot of time doing due diligence in regard to this, but I’m also a taxpayer,” said Hodges.  “So everybody on this board in my opinion and every taxpayer is a victim to this situation.”

Savage appeared at the beginning of the meeting, but walked out right away after the board chairman wouldn’t let her make a statement.  She ended up passing that statement out.  It did not address the allegations, but said the board was persecuting her.

The board had posted copies of her expense reports last week including ones from the state.  Her social security number was included on those. Her lawyer Joseph Bochicchio spoke for her. 

“She’s spent the last 3 or 4 days straight trying to clear up the damage and doing some damage control regarding that personal information getting out there in contravention of state statute,” said Bochicchio.

The board later reposted those expense reports with that information redacted.