NC Auditor Wood pleads guilty to hit-and-run charge
North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood pleaded guilty today to a hit-and-run charge for a December accident involving a state-owned vehicle in Wake County Court.
The accident occurred on Dec. 8 near the intersection of Salisbury and Hargett streets in downtown Raleigh.
Wood, a Democrat, was charged on Dec. 12 with a misdemeanor for hit-and-run, leaving the scene, property damage, and an infraction for unsafe movement.
WNCN – CBS 17 reported that Wood appeared with her attorney, Roger Smith Jr. The infraction citation was dropped. The report said that Wood told the judge that she was not impaired the night of the crash but that she had two glasses of wine at a previous Christmas party. She paid $11,000 in restitution and a $300 court fine.
Her court appearance comes just a day after misdemeanor charges were filed against two Chapel Hill men for their alleged involvement with the crash.
Jonah Mendys, 26, was charged with obstructing justice and passenger failure to give information. Mendys was allegedly in the passenger seat of Wood’s car that night.
Ryan McGuirt, 29, was charged with obstructing justice and accessory after the fact for his alleged role.
Video obtained by WRAL appears to show Wood being led into the law office of Rufus Edmisten, a former N.C. secretary of state and Watergate lawyer, while her car remains in the intersection on top of Chris Valverde’s car.
Valverde, of Pinehurst, lent the car to his daughter so she could get to work that night.
Wood issued a statement in January about the incident:
“On the evening of December 8, 2022, I attended a holiday gathering in downtown Raleigh. I was at the event for approximately two hours. When I left, I made a sharp right turn and inadvertently hit a parked car. I was shaken by the incident and, when I was unable to move my vehicle, I left the scene. That was a serious mistake and I regret my decision.
“The next morning, I notified State Motor Fleet Management that I was involved in an accident and subsequently was cited by police for unsafe movement and for failing to provide my name and other information to the owner of the car or a law enforcement officer.
“I sincerely regret my actions and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement. I have served the people of North Carolina as their State Auditor since 2009. I made a mistake in judgment on December 8, but I am committed to continuing to perform my duties with the same energy and determination I am known for.
“I apologize to the owner of the car I hit, my staff and all I serve for leaving the scene of the accident. I have learned from this mistake and am fully accepting personal responsibility for my actions.”
“Mrs. Wood has made her bed and now has to sleep in it,” said Valverde in a written statement to WGHP-TV in the Triad in January. “I just hope that the justice system is fair and impartial when handling this case and not use her position as a privilege to skate out of it unscathed. What she did is wrong. Not only the hit and run, but the lack of communication with me and the people of North Carolina as well. Her silence speaks volumes of her character and how she handles tough situations, I can only imagine how she handles tough situations when it comes to the duties and responsibilities of being the state auditor.”
The N.C. Republican Party, among others, called on Wood to resign, and a billboard had gone up in Youngsville making the same demand.
Wood told News & Observer last month that she has no plans to resign.