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Former mental health agency CEO files countersuit over pay

CHARLOTTE (AP) The former CEO of North Carolina’s largest regional mental health agency has filed a countersuit to fight efforts to recover $1.7 million in severance pay which a new board of directors said he used for himself and other executives.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports Richard Topping, the former head of Cardinal Innovations, filed his countersuit Tuesday in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.

Last May, State Auditor Beth Wood ripped Cardinal for lavish spending on CEO pay and “questionable” credit card purchases, among other items. In October, a 17-page report from the Department of Health and Human Services criticized the severance packages Cardinal offered Topping and his team.

The next month, DHHS took over the agency and fired the board for approving a $3.8 million severance package for Topping and other executives.

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