A separation agreement unravels, pushing Montgomery County manager’s marriage dispute into public view | News & Observer


Kim Woodard is involved in a divorce with her husband Matthew Woodard, county manager in Montgomery County.

 

A separation agreement unravels, pushing Montgomery County manager’s marriage dispute into public view

In November, Kim Woodard signed a contract to separate from her husband of 21 years, settling an unhappy marriage with an agreement that split 45 acres of land, two cars, two trucks, two motorcycles and custody of their teenage daughter.

Her husband, Matthew Woodard, is the county manager in Montgomery County, about 90 miles southwest of Raleigh, best-known to the Triangle for sitting in the middle of Uwharrie National Forest. But he also comes from a prominent family that has run Fidelity Bank for more than three decades. As part of their separation, he agreed to grant his wife 61 shares of Fidelity stock.

Matthew Woodard is involved in a messy divorce with his wife Kim Woodard. Chris Sewardcseward@newsobserver.com

What followed lifted their separation beyond a love gone cold.

The stock transfer never happened – stopped, according to a sworn statement from Kim Woodard, by her husband’s sister, Mary Willis, the president and CEO of Fidelity Bank. Since then, Woodard said she agreed under pressure to leave her longtime job with Fidelity.

And as a countering move, Woodard filed a lawsuit accusing her husband of illicit sexual behavior with more than one paramour. Her attorney wrote all five Montgomery County commissioners and identified three women he said had relationships with Matthew Woodard – all of them county employees. The letter demanded that commissioners preserve relevant emails and camera footage from county offices.

“We are trying to determine whether there are security records or videotapes, which will show whether Mr. Woodard has been alone in the county offices with any of the women… and in particular, whether he was alone with them after hours, during the evenings or on weekends or holidays,” wrote M. James Clarke II of Pinehurst, Kim Woodard’s attorney.

Neither Jackie Morris, chairman of the Montgomery County board, nor any of the other four commissioners returned calls seeking comment and information. A Montgomery County employee manual that appears online prohibits workers from using their positions for personal gain, including sexual relationships.

The case is further complicated by the history of Fidelity Bank, based in Fuquay-Varina. Fidelity has more than 50 locations stretching from Raleigh and Cary to Gastonia and Shelby. The private bank’s majority stockholders include Frank Holding Jr., CEO of First Citizens Bank, and his family. Kim Woodard’s lawyer sent Holding a letter on March 10 advising him to preserve all documents and digital communication with Willis and her brother, Phillip Woodard, Fidelity’s executive vice president.

Through his attorney, Daniel Keeney of Smithfield, Matthew Woodard declined to speak about his divorce or the stock transfer.

In an email, Keeney denied that Matthew Woodard had inappropriate relationships with county employees: “These scurrilous accusations are completely false. Publishing them without any supporting factual basis is nothing more than repeating the lies of a very angry spouse who, through any means (including using the press), is trying to hurt and eventually leverage Matthew Woodard.”

Mary Willis did not return calls to Fidelity’s Fuquay-Varina office. First Citizens spokeswoman Barbara Thompson said First Citizens had no comment or involvement with the case and that Holding would not discuss it.

A constant job

The Woodards met while students at Campbell University in Buies Creek, marrying in 1995. Later in their marriage, they moved to the 45-acre property near the town of Star in Montgomery County, next door to and within sight of the home of Matthew Woodard’s parents. His father, Billy Woodard, became Fidelity’s president in 1977 and its board chairman in 1979.

The family ate together, vacationed together and sold each others’ cars back and forth, Kim Woodard said – a close environment that she entered as a daughter-in-law and Fidelity bank teller. Over 22 years there, she worked her way to assistant vice president and branch manager in Star and Biscoe. She has an English degree and acknowledges the advantage a family connection gave her career. But work, family and social life in the Fidelity circle became the same thing.

“I had to answer (at) every dinner,” she said. “You never leave it. It is with you all the time.”

Matthew Woodard, 45, became Montgomery County’s manager in 2011, having worked at the local community college but not the family bank. By 2015, he was paid $100,366, according to records compiled by the state treasurer.

In an affidavit filed in the court case, Kim Woodard, 43, said her husband told her in 2015 that he had grown unhappy in their marriage and wanted to have relationships with other women. She did not agree, so they separated that August – her husband staying in an apartment behind the house on their property, she said.

After a year, the affidavit said, he told her he wanted to pursue a relationship with his most recent girlfriend and former county employee, Elizabeth Crump, now Elizabeth Dunn. Crump was Montgomery County’s human resources manager. But, the affidavit said, Matthew Woodard also told his wife about a second romantic interest that he needed a few months to work out. At the time, she said, she knew only one woman’s name.

“You know something?” Kim Woodard recalled telling her husband. “We’re done.”

Through Michael Newman, her attorney in Pinehurst, Elizabeth Dunn declined to comment.

Battle over bank stock

In their separation agreement, Kim Woodard did not seek alimony. She would get the house, $700 in monthly child support and other benefits. But she considered the stock shares her security blanket. The bank is private and its shares are not traded publicly; Fidelity’s assets stand at nearly $2 billion.

When Kim Woodard checked with the home office, she said she learned the latest value was roughly $4,000 a share. As a bank official, she knew that 61 shares would have given her a tiny portion of the bank’s stock.

She and her husband signed the agreement in November, the day Billy Woodard died at 85. This would become a point of contention later, but Kim Woodard said her husband wanted to finish the paperwork and get it out of the way. In her affidavit, she said her husband did not have a good relationship with his father and that his death was expected. Matthew Woodard spent two hours revising the agreement, Woodard said in her affidavit, adding that security camera footage shows that he was not distraught.

Soon after, Kim Woodard said, Mary Willis came to her house and offered her $325,000 for the stock shares, telling her she wanted to keep them in the family. She declined. So, according to Woodard’s affidavit, Willis personally intervened and instructed a Fidelity employee not to transfer any stock to her sister-in-law.

A Nov. 22 letter from one of Matthew Woodard’s attorneys described the agreement being signed hours after his father’s death as an “egregious” detail.

“Mr. Woodard did not have the opportunity to consult with an attorney and frankly was not in the frame of mind to voluntarily execute any document at the time,” wrote Marcia Armstrong. “It seems clear that Ms. Woodard intentionally took advantage of the situation to get what she wanted.”

In December, Kim Woodard filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce the signed agreement. In it, she wrote that her husband had not provided adequate support. She alleged acts of illicit sexual behavior with multiple paramours during their marriage and prior to the separation. She accused Matthew Woodard of abusing alcohol, drinking 12 beers or more per night until passing out. And she accused him of being verbally abusive, belittling his wife in front of their minor daughter.

“The defendant has threatened to bulldoze and to burn down the marital home,” the suit said.

In her affidavit, Kim Woodard said Fidelity accused her of excessive absenteeism five days after she filed her lawsuit. She provided emails proving she had been in the office, the affidavit said, but she was offered the choice of resigning with a benefits package or being fired.

On March 9, her attorney sent letters to all Montgomery County commissioners, advising them of legal issues related to the county manager’s alleged relationships with Elizabeth Dunn and two other county employees. Dunn was identified in Kim Woodard’s affidavit, but the other two women were not.

State treasurer’s records show that Dunn joined the county in 2012. Her pay rose from $35,362 in 2013 to $45,310 in 2014, when she was human resources director. She left the county job in 2016. The other two women have also left their county jobs.

Holes in a pool

March brought a blizzard of legal activity and letters in the case.

On March 22, a District Court judge in Montgomery County denied Matthew Woodard’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. His lawyer filed an immediate notice of appeal, leaving the case pending and potentially signaling a long legal fight.

On March 20, John Fleming Jr., senior vice president and senior counsel for First Citizens, sent Kim Woodard’s attorney a letter saying, “We are confused why you have asked First Citizens to preserve documents relating to these disputes.” He said the bank had none that relate to the parties involved.

Also in March, Fidelity’s attorney in Asheville, Caroline McLean, filed an objection, calling a subpoena that asked for correspondence “a fishing expedition.”

“The bank’s internal employment records are irrelevant to a domestic dispute between separating spouses,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, Kim Woodard waits, unemployed, for a resolution. Her daughter moves between the two parents. While this dispute has played out, someone poked holes through the above-ground swimming pool on the property, so Kim Woodard started up a tractor and dragged the wreckage to Matthew Woodard’s mother’s property.

It has since been dragged back.

How the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. Can Help

If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to defend your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.

Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.

 

 

 

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