Historic commission rallies to keep Hillsborough school open after $174K embezzled

Orange County News

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Hillsborough woman accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a historic school appeared in court Monday morning for an unrelated charge in Orange County.

Ronda Tucker, the former director of the Burwell School Historic Site, has been charged with embezzlement after police said she stole $174,000 from the Hillsborough Historic Commission since 2016.

According to her arrest warrant, she spent the money on plane tickets, taxi cabs, veterinary services, as well as trips to the nail salon, restaurants, and shopping.

Tucker was fired in June, not long after the commission became aware of the missing funds.

CBS 17 approached Tucker as she left the courthouse but she dodged our questions.

Brooks Graebner, chair of the Hillsborough Historic Commission, said he wasn’t available to speak on camera today, but when we caught up with him last week, he said this loss in funds has been tough on the commission.

“There was a lot of shock,” Graebner said. “The organization has really rallied together to make sure that this site stays open.”

Graebner said the loss in funds has kept them from being able to hire a paid director, so they have to rely on volunteers to handle tours during the week.

For instance, some members of the commission have had to step in and volunteer.

Graebner said that the commissioners have donated a total of $25,000 of their own funds in hopes of keeping the site open.

He said that they continue to receive grants from the city and county levels, but money is still tight.

Graebner said he hopes they don’t face any major repair issues until they can rebuild their reserve funds.

“We want to continue to be open to the public and we want to continue to have events here, because this is such a wonderful and cultural historic resource,” Graebner said.

Tucker was in court on Monday morning on a charge for a worthless check, not related to the embezzlement charge.

The worthless check charge was dismissed.

Her next court appearance for the embezzlement charge will be Nov. 22.

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