Former NC mental health executive gets 18 months

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The former executive director of a mental health program in Charlotte has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for improperly taking more than $145,000.

The Charlotte Observer reported that 52-year-old Ed Payton was sentenced Thursday. Payton is former executive director of Mecklenburg Open Door, a publicly funded mental health contractor.

Payton told U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn that he had lost more than 70 pounds because of his pain and remorse.

But Cogburn said he could not grant Payton’s request for probation. He also ordered Payton to repay more than $130,000.

Payton had pleaded guilty last April to improperly taking the money from the now-closed agency, once one of Mecklenburg County’s largest mental health contractors.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to file 2008 tax returns.

Credit: The Associated Press.