Former Inspector Charged
N.C. Department of Insurance investigators charged Aberdeen's former building inspector Tuesday with forging credentials to get his job.
Richard Clyde Caton, 59, faces three counts of common law forgery, one count of obtaining property by false pretenses and one count of falsifying government documents. All are felony charges. He was released from custody with a $10,000 unsecured bond.
Caton's first court hearing is April 14.
According to the arrest warrants, Caton is charged with forging letters from the N.C. Department of Insurance to support his claim that he had the education and credentials required to hold the post of Aberdeen's chief building inspector.
The warrants say that Caton, a Pinebluff resident, earned $92,000 from the town from December 2005 to his resignation Jan. 16, 2008. That is the basis for the charge of obtaining property by false pretenses.
Aberdeen Mayor Betsy Mofield called the charges "very, very sad."
"It's not a red-letter day in Aberdeen," she said. "This is a sad turn of events."
The town discovered in January, after an anonymous phone call, that Caton's name was not on the N.C. Board of Qualifications Web site. He resigned shortly thereafter.
The Aberdeen Board of Commissioners voted Jan. 29 to release publicly information on the circumstances of the resignation. At that time, Caton told The Pilot that it was the result of "a miscommunication."
Since then, Aberdeen has taken steps to ensure that the nearly 300 buildings Caton approved are actually up to code. Planning Director Kathy Liles and new Building Inspector Rodney Childress have been double-checking everything.
"(Childress) has been very adamant in checking every detail," Mofield said, "just to be sure."
The town also sent out a letter to all contractors to let them know what happened. Several developers requested that their buildings be reinspected. The reinspections did show some "common deficiencies" in buildings, Liles said.
The town held a meeting Wednesday with developers and an investigator from the Department of Insurance to address the deficiencies.
Caton lacked Level II and Level III Building Inspection certifications. He held only Level I home inspection certification and an electrician's license. The town requires Level III certification in building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical.
Mofield said that the town has taken steps to ensure that it is not duped in the future. Town Manager Bill Zell, who was on vacation and not available for comment, has assigned two employees to check credentials, Mofield said.
"We're working diligently to protect the citizens first," she said. "Our primary goal is to make sure they are living in safe houses and working in safe buildings."
She said that in the two and a half years Caton worked with the town she never had any reason to suspect anything was amiss. The town is still in shock, she said.
"I can't imagine why in the world he did that," she said. "I can't explain it."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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