Local News

Money For Wake School Bus Parts May Have Been Used For TVs, Gift Cards

Posted January 21, 2005

— The relationship between former employees with the Wake County Schools Transportation Department and a supplier is under the microscope. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether money for bus parts was spent on big-screen TVs and gift cards.

The department routinely placed large orders with Barnes Motor and Parts. Last year, the orders totaled $4 million. Michael Evans, spokesman for Wake County Schools, is not convinced the school system ever got what it paid for.

"We saw some irregularities and we asked some questions," he said.

Investigators have reason to believe that some money did not go toward bus parts. They are looking into the possibility that the money was used for personal items like big-screen TVs and gift cards.

"We don't know the magnitude or the size of this investigation," Evans said.

Last fall, Barnes Motor and Parts fired two managers, Connie Capps and Bobby Browder. The firings came after Carol Finch, Pam Stewart and Angela Malloy-Sanders suddenly resigned from the school transportation department.

WRAL attempted to talk with several of those employees, but did not find them at their homes. Finch's neighbors are curious because investigators have knocked on their doors asking questions about her lifestyle.

"I don't really know. She kind of keeps to herself. I've only spoken to her one time," neighbor Kristi Haverdink said.

Schools transportation director Vern Hatley was demoted for not providing enough oversight. He later resigned from his post.

Barnes Motor and Parts has returned more than $1 million to the school system. One of the business' fired employees told WRAL Friday that all she did was follow company procedures. To this point, no one has been criminally charged.


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