N.C. State Rep. and State Senator-elect Bob Steinburg fired his legislative aide, Diana London, on Dec. 10. The move came five days after the Kitty Hawk resident pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and agreed to pay $25,000 in restitution to her former employer, Pigman’s Bar-B-Que in Kill Devil Hills.
Steinburg did not respond to requests for comment from the Sentinel. However the Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reported in a Dec. 12 article that Steinburg terminated London’s employment on Dec. 5 in light of incriminating recordings released last week by District Attorney for the First District Andrew Womble.
Those recordings were of a telephone conversation between London and Pigman’s Bar-B-Que owner, Richard Bruce, during which London admits to the theft of nearly $30,000 from the Kill Devil Hills restaurant.
Steinburg, in the Daily Advance article, said “it was difficult to refute her words” in the taped conversation.
“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. That perception is a harmful distraction and interferes with our ability to do the public's work,” the article quoted him as saying.
News of London’s plea last week, which was reduced from an original charge of felony embezzlement against her this past spring, created a significant reaction on various online media sites that included criticism of Steinburg for continuing to employ London.
While employed as a social media consultant with Pigman’s, prosecutors say that London used the restaurant owners’ various financial accounts to charge nearly $30,000 to benefit her own business ventures and other personal charges.
Under the plea arrangement reached last week, London has agreed to pay $10,000 to Pigman’s owners by Dec. 10, with the remaining $15,000 due by May 10, 2019. She will remain on supervised probation until the balance is paid off.
London was charged with the felony shortly after Steinburg defeated Republican Clark Twiddy in the 2018 GOP primary for the District 1 State Senate seat, which represents Dare County. On Nov. 6, Steinburg defeated Democrat Cole Phelps of Washington County to win the seat.
Even after terminating London, Steinburg continued to stand by his accusation that her prosecution was politically motivated, noting that the owners of Pigman’s Bar-B-Que were strong supporters of Twiddy during the general election.
In a press release last week countering those accusations, Womble asserted that, “Suggesting a nefarious motivation on behalf of the District Attorney’s office or that the system is broken after not attending one court hearing or listening to one recitation of facts in open court is intellectually dishonest and serves to undermine the public’s confidence in their representatives and their judicial system.”