LUMBERTON — Hal Kinlaw, who resigned as county attorney in June after BB&T filed lawsuits against him to recover about $17.8 million in unpaid loans, is still on the county’s payroll.
According to County Manager Ricky Harris, Kinlaw is working for the county’s administration, finishing up “different legal matters” that he started before his resignation. He is on a retainer and being paid $5,000 a month, Harris said.
“Hal is working for me and closing up some things he had started,” Harris said. “He is finishing up some work for the administration, the sheriff and the Department of Social Services.”
Harris said that Kinlaw, the county’s attorney for about 23 years, will continue to work for the county until a new full-time attorney can be hired.
On June 17, the county’s Board of Commissioners named Doug Murray, a Brunswick County resident who used to live in Lumberton, as the interim county attorney. Murray retired from the Lumberton law firm of McLean, McIntyre, Ramseur & Murray after practicing law for more than 30 years. He told the commissioners that he has no intention of “applying for or seeking the position” of full-time county attorney.
The county began its search for a new attorney in July. At that time Harris said he hoped the whole hiring process would take about 90 days.
Harris said that the number of applications received so far is below what he anticipated, but he did not provide a specific number received. He said some are from out of county.
Harris said that the applications have been given to the county’s Personnel Committee, which includes Commissioners Roger Oxendine, Raymond Cummings, Tom Taylor and Jerry Stephens, for review. The committee will recommend four or five applicants to be interviewed by the full eight-member Board of Commissioners.
When Kinlaw resigned June 10, he left behind a salary of $179,242 from the county, one of the highest in the state for county attorneys according to the UNC School of Government.
Harris said Kinlaw was paid by the county for expenses incurred when he required assistance from other attorneys for legal work for the county. According to the School of Government, Kinlaw billed the county $366,405 for additional fees during 2012.
BB&T filed six lawsuits against Kinlaw at the Robeson County courthouse on April 15. In addition to the attorney, his wife Marcia, Anita Jo Kinlaw Troxler, and five companies were named as defendants.
The bank in its lawsuits has cited Kinlaw with making 56 transactions that date back to 2001 and total about $17.8 million.
The charges against Kinlaw are not criminal and do not involve his work with the county or county money.
Kinlaw told The Robesonian in June that he was in a “bad investment scenario” and “trying to work out a way to pay everything back.” He said that his problems center on several tracts of land he has purchased over the years in Onslow and other coastal counties for development companies. None of the land is in Robeson County, he said.
According to Kinlaw the value of the properties has depreciated and the bank now contends the collateral to renew his loans no longer exists.
Court documents name five companies, in addition to Kinlaw, as being defendants in the lawsuits filed by the bank. They include: McClaw Group Inc.; Kinlaw Investment Co.; Webb Creek Water and Sewage; Parnell Kinlaw Group Inc.; and Group Eight Ltd. All of the companies have addresses listed either for Kinlaw’s home in St. Pauls or his law office in Lumberton, and he is named in loan documents as vice president or secretary of all the companies.