Local News

More Former County Employees Return Merchandise To Wake Schools

Posted April 25, 2005

— A list of items allegedly purchased by former employees of the Wake County School System is growing as an investigation into what authorities call "a sophisticated fraud scheme" continues.

The investigation involves five former employees from the Wake County Schools' Transportation Department and two employees of Barnes Motor & Parts in Wilson and Raleigh.

Investigators think stacks of invoices for bus parts were a cover for personal purchases.

WRAL first started looking over the bus part orders months ago and noticed some orders did not have descriptions and that part numbers did not seem to correspond to any known part. On Monday, an attorney for the Wake County School System told WRAL's Kelcey Carlson that many orders placed with Barnes Motors & Parts were fake.

Those orders included purchases for big-screen TVs, automobiles and computers.

WRAL has learned that Connie Capps from Barnes Motors & Parts turned in to authorities 13 big-ticket items, totaling nearly $172,000. Those items included three campers, four scooters, a 2004 Chevrolet truck and a 2000 Jeep.

Capps had no comment and told WRAL to talk with her attorney.

Her former co-worker, Bobby Browder, returned $3,000 to cover a dryer, DVD recorder, camcorder, gift cards, pillows and cologne.

Vern Hatley, former Transportation Director, returned nearly $23,000. An attorney for the school system now says Hatley got new carpet for his home, a TV, computer and thousands of dollars in gift cards.

Pam Stewart, who worked for Hatley, has agreed to repay $17,000 for money, gift cards and presents she received. She also returned furniture and electronics.

Angela Malloy-Sanders returned $10,000 in furniture and electronics.

Phil Lambert returned $800 for gift cards, and he turned over furniture and electronics.

Carol Finch, who was in charge of transportation finances, has not returned anything. Invoices obtained by WRAL show a number of home appliances delivered to her home and billed to Barnes Motor & Parts.

Over the weekend, neighbors say they saw her loading up furniture and other household items into several trucks.

Barnes Motor & Parts sent $1.3 million back to the school system -- money it calls a prepayment for future orders.

Most of the returned items were auctioned and the money is in an escrow account.

Investigators are still trying to determine individual roles for criminal charges.

They are also trying to add up the cost of the fraud to both the school system and Barnes.


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