Sam Neill, a former Democratic Congressional candidate and 12-year-member of the UNC Board of Governors, has been disbarred for stealing trust fund money. Neill agreed to give up his license and admitted misconduct.
Neill, who is from Hendersonville, is a well known fixture in Western North Carolina political circles. He twice ran against former U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor and lost. He served as chairman of the UNC Board of Governors for two years.
According to The Asheville Citizen-Times, Neill was named trustee of a charitable trust by Barry E. Clemo, who died in February 2009. The trust called for Neill to distribute the money to the Community Foundation of Henderson County and Four Seasons Hospice. A recent court filing said the two organizations received nothing from the trust, and that Neill hasn't accounted for the money when asked.
The Hendersonville Times-News reported on a recently filed lawsuit that alleges that Neill took about $900,000 from the trust fund. Now there are “little to no assets remaining in the trust to be distributed to the beneficiaries,” according to the suit.
The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation is investigating. District Attorney Jeff Hunt has asked the state Attorney General's office to lead the prosecution; Hunt told the newspaper he wanted to avoid any conflict of interest in prosecuting his long time friend.