Local News

Former Wake school transportation chief out of prison

Posted October 22, 2012

— A former Wake County Public School System administrator is out of prison after serving time for a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.

Vern Hatley, who headed the district's transportation department, pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2005, to charges of conspiracy and obtaining property by false pretense for his role in a scheme involving fake orders to Wilson-based automotive-parts supplier Barnes Motors & Parts. Employees in the department received kickbacks in the scheme.

Hatley later tried to withdraw his guilty plea, but a judge rejected the request. His ruling was later upheld by the state Court of Appeals.

He had admitted to accepting nearly $23,000 worth of items, including $11,000 in gift cards, from Barnes Motors & Parts.

Several other former transportation department employees and former Barnes employees also pleaded guilty in the case and received jail time.

It might never be known how much money the school system lost in the scheme, but the Wake County school system has recovered at least an estimated $5 million.


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  • piknowles4 Oct 23, 2012

    AutoZone is hiring.

  • westernwake1 Oct 23, 2012

    To be fair (ran out of space in the last post). Del Burns and others were very cooperative when the ball got rolling with the SBI. I view Del Burns has having integrity, but disagree with his philosophy (diversity busing, etc.). I view him as just an adequate operational administrator.

  • westernwake1 Oct 23, 2012

    "It was Del Burns who had a major hand in uncovering the fraud and fully cooperated with the investigation. Hatley had already been in his position long before Burns was superintendent. Give the politics a rest for a while." - samr

    I expect that it is time that you go read the court transcripts of the case. The fraud was uncovered by a newly hired employee in the audit department. The employee and their supervisor reported the fraud up to administrators and no action was taken. They then reported the fraud to the SBI. Del Burns and others only got "cooperative" when the SBI showed up at their door demanding documents. This was fraud that was deemed by the auditor as "obvious even with the most basic scrutiny". My understanding is that the audit employee and supervisor are no longer with the school system.

    @AWakeMom - Yes 99%+ of the WCPSS are honest and work hard every day for our children - they were all very sad and upset about this fraud.

  • AWakeMom Oct 23, 2012

    samr -- nicely said.

    westerwake1 -- All of WCPSS was saddened when this went down. Less than one percent of employees can put a black mark on the reputations of everyone who works for WCPSS. It's sad.

  • westernwake1 Oct 22, 2012

    I will make the assumption that Del Burns and Bill McNeal were shocked and unhappy when this fraud was exposed and were not active participants in the illict activity in any manner. I will assume that both be very saddened and very let down with the illegal behavior of their associates.

    However on their watch, Wake County schools not only experienced this transportation fraud, but several other fraud cases. These issues cost Wake County Schools millions of dollars.

    The real problem here is the total lack of institutional control and failure in executive oversight at the superintendent level which allowed multiple high-dollar frauds to rip off the school system over a long period of time under their watch.

  • samr Oct 22, 2012

    It was Del Burns who had a major hand in uncovering the fraud and fully cooperated with the investigation. Hatley had already been in his position long before Burns was superintendent. Give the politics a rest for a while.

  • tired2 Oct 22, 2012

    Ask Debra Goldman where the funds are...I hear she has the qualifications the be the State Auditor...or maybe John Tedesco knows - he is also good with finances...hahahahaha

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Oct 22, 2012

    Did he need a ride from jail?

    Why would you ask that silly question? Of course he needed a ride home. How else would he have gotten back home? Think for a change will you.

  • GravyPig Oct 22, 2012

    Oh, he's out now. Did he need a ride from jail?

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Oct 22, 2012

    I sure hope he has learned his lesson. Now with a felony on name, its going to be hard for him to get a job.