PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- A 13News Now investigation uncovered one of the candidates vying to lead the Portsmouth department that secures the courthouse, runs the jail and serves civil debt warrants has a troubled financial history.
“There's money out there to combat the issues that we're having in Portsmouth,” Michael A. Moore, who is running to be the next Portsmouth Sheriff told us.
Money is why we asked Moore, who is the democratic candidate for sheriff, for an interview. We've been investigating court records throughout Hampton Roads and we've uncovered thousands of dollars in debt.
In Suffolk Circuit Court, the Internal Revenue Service filed a notice of federal tax lien. It says the Moore’s have unpaid taxes totaling $50,372.57. The paperwork shows the balances are from taxes for 2010 and 2012 through 2014.
We asked Moore if he can explain how that happened.
“The great majority of that is when I retired back in 2012, my 401K when it was released to me the government did not take out enough taxes,” he responded. “So that has been resolved. We are actually making monthly payments.”
Now, we're told that debt is down to about $23,400 and the Moore’s are working on a settlement.
In Portsmouth, Midland Funding LLC. filed a claim against Moore's wife, Chanta. The court file we obtained shows the debt is from a credit card account. It lists $22,37.41 of charges. The former ATF agent said that debt stems from his wife's illness.
He explained they've paid off a lot of it and there's a payment plan for the rest, as well.
“The only thing I can say is we try to pay all our bills,” Moore lamented. “Some times are more difficult than others. We're not trying to run away. We know we owe and we're paying.”
We were also contacted by one of Moore's former landlords.
“Within a matter of three months, they started immediately becoming delinquent on the rent,” Amy Giles said in a phone interview.
Giles filed papers in court, saying the Moore's owed her thousands. There's disagreement over the details of why the Moore’s owe money, but a judge ruled they'd have to pay more than $2,000. That was in 2014. The very day of our first phone call asking Moore for an interview, he and his wife paid that debt.
“I'm sorry it took that long, but the fact of it is I just had the funds available to pay it,” he stated.
Still, Giles wondered if the financial records have broader implications.
“The public that's going to be voting for him here in Portsmouth should know,” she supposed.
We asked Moore what he would say to people who say 'well, he can't handle his own finances, how are we supposed to entrust him with the finances of the sheriff's department.'
“Those are personal matters that dealt with financial issues resulting from a severe and serious medical issue,” he answered. “It had nothing to do with my performance on the job.”
Now, it's up to voters to decide if Moore will get the next job he wants in this campaign for Sheriff.
“I kind of always equate politics with mud wrestling with a pig,” he added. “Unfortunately, the politics of it is the pig and once you start wrestling in it, the pig loves the mud. We just end up getting dirty and I don't want to get dirty.”
Neither Midland Funding, nor the IRS will comment on individual cases, so we are unable to confirm with them the current balances owed on the debt.