MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Mooresville Police Chief John Crone, who was suspended last month because of an investigation into the finances of his Cops for Kids program, left office Thursday.

Mooresville interim town manager Erskine Smith announced the move in an e-mail to the town board Thursday night but declined to say whether Crone resigned or had been fired. He said that information would be made public in a release this morning.

Crone had come under fire because of allegations that expenditures in the Cops for Kids program lacked sufficient documentation. He was suspended July 8 with pay pending the result of the investigation. Dozens of residents also called for his firing before the town commissioners' meeting Monday.

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"I still think we need to complete the investigation," commissioner Miles Atkins said. "It is like peeling an onion. I think we should know more in the next two or three weeks. That when we will know all the facts, and then we can get complete closure."< /p>

Commissioner Chris Carney said interim police Chief Carl Robbins should be strongly considered to succeed Crone. Smith will name the new successor to the position.

"I think Chief Robbins has been spectacular," Carney said. "He made sure the staff did everything it could to cooperate. He showed great leadership and did nothing but help his position."

Carney said the town can now move forward, even though the investigation is not yet complete.

"The best thing to do is get this over quickly," he said. "I understand why our citizens came out. They wanted to return Mooresville to a town of integrity. This has tarnished Mooresville's reputation, but we can move on from this."

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