Update: Steinburg aide fired following larceny plea

By on December 13, 2018

Diana London

Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) has fired legislative aide Diana Nicole London following her Dec. 5 guilty plea to misdemeanor larceny in connection with the theft of nearly $30,000 last year from the owners of Pigman’s Bar-B-Que.

Steinburg originally defended London, 31, after a grand jury indicted her in May on a felony embezzlement charge, saying the prosecution was politically motivated. But after hearing a recorded conversation between London and one of Pigman’s co-owners, he said he changed his mind.

London had worked as a social media consultant for the Kill Devil Hills restaurant beginning in January 2017. That fall, the restaurant’s owners discovered unauthorized expenses on their credit card.

The felony charge was dropped to misdemeanor larceny in a plea agreement in Dare County Superior Court, allowing London to avoid jail time. She has been ordered to repay $25,000 to the restaurant.

Saying he had been accused of wrongdoing in prosecuting the case, District Attorney Andrew Womble released audio transcripts of a conversation between London and Pigman’s co-owner Richard Bruce, in which London is heard acknowledging she stole money.

In the recording, London says “I owe you both apologies separately,” referring to Bruce and co-owner Thera “Top” Palmer.

When Bruce asks her to explain, London says, “a lot of deceit, lying, the money that I handled wrongly.”

“You can say it, Diana,” Bruce says.

“Ok, the money that I stole.”

Listen to the full conversation:

In a news release, Womble said he released the recording after being called into question by Steinburg, a Republican who will soon represent state Senate District 1, which includes Currituck County. Womble is also a Republican.

Steinburg has said he was disappointed Womble got involved in “a civil matter,” and suggested the district attorney was motivated by politics to prosecute London.

London also worked as Steinburg’s campaign manager this year in his successful bid for the First District seat in the state Senate. Following her guilty plea, he said London continued to work for his office and he had “every confidence in her.”

“It is crystal clear we need serious judicial reform in this country and our state,” Steinburg told the Daily Advance.

In a statement to the Outer Banks Voice, Steinburg said the public deserves to have trust in public employees, and decided to end London’s employment.

“Ms. London did not disclose to me all information that could be construed in any way to support a perception or narrative she is not trustworthy,” he wrote. “That perception is a harmful distraction and interferes with our ability to do the public’s work.”

Steinburg hired London in February and said her background check was “completely clean.” She did tell Steinburg about being involved in a civil suit with former clients of her marketing company.

She later informed told him that the district attorney’s office was “threatening to indict her for a crime if she didn’t agree to the civil settlement amount proposed by her former clients,” Steinburg wrote.

“I and others questioned why the District Attorney’s office would intervene in a civil dispute. The District Attorney’s office chronology demonstrates Ms. London was authorized to use her client’s credit card but the clients contested some charges she made.”

Womble said Steinburg’s criticism was “intellectually dishonest” since he didn’t examine the facts of the case before putting his support behind London.

“As district attorney, I took an oath to do justice and to relentlessly pursue the truth wherever it may lead. I am confident I have done that in this case and will continue to do so in the future,” Womble said.

The criminal investigation against London began in October 2017, after the owners of Pigman’s received a fraud alert that their American Express card has been used for an Uber ride in Europe, according to the police report.

The owners found that the Uber account belonged to London, who they knew was visiting Europe at the time.

Bruce and Palmer went through credit card statements and “found various purchases had been made using their card that they did not authorize,” the report said.

Those charges began shortly after they hired London as a social media consultant. She had been added as an authorized user on the card for purchases related to marketing only, according to court documents.
Among the improper purchases London is accused of making are Shutterstock photos for her own marketing company, Starbucks, Pandadoc and Squarespace.

She’s also accused of setting up a PayPal account in Pigman’s name and changing the login so she would be alerted when purchases were made on the account, according to court documents.


Comments

  • bill polk

    yall got a serious proble in judicial system down there. This woman should be charged with a felony and steinburg should have fired her immediately. Just goes to show you that politicians will stop at nothing to get what they want

    Monday, Dec 10 @ 5:10 pm
  • Windy Bill

    Steinburg is absolutely right in that we need judicial reform! There is no way someone who has committed felony embezzellment (ok, I can’t spell) should get off with misdemeanor larceny! Who do those people think they are?

    Monday, Dec 10 @ 5:22 pm
  • Craig Merrill

    Dear Bob,

    I assume you have seen the articles here and elsewhere outlining Diana London’s larceny. While I understand your initial allegiance to Ms. London, it appears that there is overwhelming evidence that she stole from Pigman’s Bar-B-Que … In the process of defending her you publicly questioned the integrity of District Attorney Andrew Womble and even suggested this was evidence of the need for broader judicial reform. My question is what are you going to do now? It does not seem proper to keep a convicted thief on the government’s payroll, especially in a position of responsibility. It would also seem appropriate for you to issue a public apology to Mr. Womble. Perhaps you could also take a moment to explain your fact-based concerns about the judiciary. What say you Bob?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Have a Merry Christmas,
    Craig

    Monday, Dec 10 @ 8:18 pm
  • Kathy

    It is clear that incoming Senator Bob Steinburg spent not one minute looking into the facts of the London case before spouting off completely erroneous information and accusations. Calling the integrity of the prosecuting attorney into question and referring to this definitely criminal case as a civil matter show Steinburg’s arrogance and ignorance. Apologies to our prosecuting attorney and the public are in order here.

    Steinburg called me unfounded names when I questioned his service during his campaign and demanded that I provide further information, yet refused to apologize or respond when I provided said information.

    Steinburg’s unwavering support of a staff member who admitted to stealing almost $30,000 from another employer speaks for itself. Get her off the public payroll! NOW! Vote Steinburg OUT when his term is up!

    Kathy

    Tuesday, Dec 11 @ 4:28 am
  • Edward OCallaghan

    Mr. Steinburg,
    I am an Outer banks resident and voter. I cast my vote for you with the confidence you would make the very best decisions as to hiring/appointing a team. This has very much weakened my opinion of you and demand you correct this immediately. The fact this person did not do jail time, and then is allowed into a position of public trust is outrageous. It is very much the opinion of myself and many others watching you that you are off to a bad start, Please make this right, or many of us will already start looking for a better candidate to represent us!

    Tuesday, Dec 11 @ 8:26 am
  • Curtis Culhane

    Senator-Elect Steinberg,

    It’s one thing to give a person an opportunity to redeem themselves and I applaud your actions in giving Ms. London the benefit of the doubt; however, once the evidence and subsequent confession confirmed her guilt, you should have thanked her and politely shown her the door.

    As I said, offering her an opportunity to atone for her crime is Christian charity at its best, but it does not absolve you of your duty to practice good judgment. As a servant of the people, your obligation is to show that you can make prudent decisions, but thus far in this instance you have chosen poorly.

    I wish Ms. London the best and I sincetely hope she has experienced a lesson that will guide her throughout the remainder of her life. I’m a firm believer that one bad choice does not define a person; however, I do believe they have a higher standard to meet once they have breached someone’s trust. Ms. London can most definitely rise above this sad situation and I pray that she does, but that all rest squarely on her shoulders alone.

    Turning this sad situation into a politically motivated vendetta is an act of narcissism and I so hope sir that your tenure will be one that will be defined by your service and not your ego.

    Respectfully,
    Curtis Culhane

    Tuesday, Dec 11 @ 11:39 pm
  • Dennis M.

    Steinberg’s behavior isn’t surprising. Consider the leader of his party.

    Thursday, Dec 13 @ 7:35 pm
  • Mantoer

    Thank you for the update. Sorry for her poor choices.

    Thursday, Dec 13 @ 10:43 pm
  • Rick

    This is for Rep. Bob Steinburg, can you spell Boswell? This issue is your “plastic bag” and you had best do right moving forward.

    Sunday, Dec 16 @ 8:34 am
  • Kate

    omg

    Thursday, Dec 20 @ 2:21 pm