FBI investigating N.C. DMV over wiretapping allegations

RALEIGH — Federal authorities are investigating whether the former commissioner of the state Division of Motor Vehicles illegally wiretapped the phone calls of agency employees.

George Tatum, who resigned in 2007 amid a corruption scandal, had a special telephone in his office that allowed him to listen in on the calls of his subordinates without their knowledge, according to current DMV officials. Greg Lockamy, who retired unexpectedly last year after serving as the agency's internal affairs director, also had a phone set up for secret eavesdropping.

State law forbids intercepting phone calls without a warrant unless at least one person in the conversation knows the monitoring is taking place.

Tatum, now the director of emergency management at Fayetteville State University, did not respond to repeated requests for comment this week.

Current DMV Commissioner Mike Robertson said any improper monitoring of employee phone calls ended before he took over last year. Robertson confirmed, however, that FBI agents interviewed him about wiretapping that might have occurred at DMV prior to his arrival.

Other DMV officials had also been interviewed, he said. He declined to divulge details about what questions the federal agents asked.

"It's fairly common knowledge over here there were allegations about telephone eavesdropping," Robertson said.

Brent Parrish, a telephone technician at DMV, was subpoenaed to appear before the federal grand jury hearing evidence in a wide-ranging investigation of former Gov. Mike Easley. Parrish said Tuesday he testified Sept. 16 about the special features installed on Tatum's phone.

Parrish said he had no direct knowledge of whose calls Tatum might have listened to or why.

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