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SEPTIC PROBE WIDENS EX-OFFICIAL GOT $2,500 FROM SEPTIC TANK FIRM

SEPTIC PROBE WIDENS EX-OFFICIAL GOT $2,500 FROM SEPTIC TANK FIRM

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Fired Guilford County sanitarian Larry E. Davis received a $2,500 check from a septic tank and well contractor in 1988, according to a search warrant application filed Wednesday by the Guilford County Sheriff's Department.

The check was from V.L. Clapp & Sons at 3327 N.C. 62 in Whitsett, the application shows. Detectives found the check when searching Davis' bank records.The search warrant issued Wednesday by county magistrate M.S. James authorizes detectives to seize records of V.L. Clapp & Sons and of Vance Clapp, Jackie Clapp and Billy Clapp. The records include business, bank and tax records and any other records that would show the income and expenses of the company and the individuals from Jan. 1, 1984, to Oct. 31, 1988, according to the search warrant application.

The application states ``there is probably cause and reasonable grounds to believe that a continuing criminal enterprise is ongoing' with the Clapps that involves bribery of a public official, offering bribes to public officials and willfully failing to discharge duties.

Detective Ed Siwinski, who filed the application, has been gathering information for the District Attorney's office since Davis was fired Sept. 22, 1988. Guilford County Health Department officials say Davis approved unsuitable lots for septic systems.

No charges have been filed.

In the application filed Wednesday, Siwinski wrote that there was a promissory note for a 90-day loan from V.L. Clapp & Sons to Davis but that an analysis of Davis' bank account revealed no repayment of the loan.

The company used to dig or drill holes for percolation tests, the method by which Guilford County sanitarians until this year used to determine whether lots were suitable for septic systems. Septic system permits, issued by the health department, are required before building permits are issued for areas not served by sewer.

In a July 1989 interview with detectives, Billy O. Clapp and Jackie Clapp said the loan had been repaid and that they would provide documentation to support that, Siwinski wrote in the application. The documentation never was provided, Siwinski wrote.

Davis said Wednesday that he borrowed the money from Billy Clapp Dec. 21, 1988, and that he paid it back, using a check, Feb. 20, 1989. The search warrant application states that the check from the Clapp company was dated Jan. 15, 1988.

``I've got the receipt right here, where it's signed and notarized,' he said. ``That's no big secret at all.' Davis has said he never took money in return for approving lots.

Davis said he has not been asked for the receipt. Efforts to reach Siwinski were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Vance Clapp, who owns the company with his sons, said detectives talked with Billy and Jackie Clapp Wednesday afternoon. He said he did not know what the men discussed.

Vance Clapp said neither he nor his sons paid Larry Davis to approve lots for septic systems. Septic tanks treat household waste from sinks, toilets, bathtubs and washers. When the underground tanks are placed in unsuitable soil, disease-carrying sewage can rise to the surface.

Efforts to reach Billy Clapp and Jackie Clapp were unsuccessful Wednesday.

The check from the company is the third that search warrant applications indicate Davis received from people with septic tank interests while he was employed by the health department.

The other two checks were from Aughenbaugh Construction, owned by Robert Aughenbaugh and his estranged wife, Helen, according to search warrant applications.

Davis has said in interviews that one check, for $2,000, was a loan and that he repaid it. He has said the second check, for $200, was payment for something he sold to Robert Aughenbaugh - either a piece of equipment or imitation Rolex watches. Davis said he could not remember which.

According to the application filed Wednesday, two former employees of C.A.A. Associates, a development company, and confidential informants have told detectives that lots in several subdivisions developed by C.A.A. were approved for septic systems without the test. C.A.A. is owned by the Aughenbaughs and developer Tim Curtis.

Health department officials began investigating Davis in July 1988, after someone complained that Davis improperly had approved several lots for septic systems in southeastern Guilford subdivisions. Joseph Holliday, the department's director, has declined to name the informant but has said the person has ties to the development business.

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