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Court Rules Against Appeal in Wake Schools Fraud Case

Posted October 16, 2007

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— The only person not to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving the Wake County Public School System lost his appeal on Tuesday to overturn his conviction.

But the North Carolina Court of Appeals did send the case back to the lower court to fix a clerical error by the court, which entered a judgment against Harold Estes for embezzlement when he was charged with and found to be guilty of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Estes was sentenced to 11 to 15 years in prison in August 2006 for his role in the scheme involving fake orders to Wilson-based automotive-parts supplier Barnes Motors & Parts and kickbacks to employees of the school system's transportation department.

Estes, at the time, was the boyfriend of a Barnes employee. They later married.

Six other people, including his wife, Connie Capps, pleaded guilty for their roles in the and received sentences ranging from 60 days to up to 10 years.

The school system's former transportation department director, Vern Hatley, was sentenced to 7 to 10 years in February 2006 after he filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

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


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 17, 2007

    It's amazing that we keep giving the school board more money each year when they can't account for all of the money spent during the previous year.

    It amazes me that have no idea how much was stolen. Bet that the increases in county taxes was for covering the amount that was stolen.

    The school board administrators need to be fired and replaced by business people who know how to run a business and account for all of the money that was spent.

  • dlb800 Oct 17, 2007

    Ok Hondaman... fine... so bonds can only be used for land and
    construction costs. Why do they need the bonds? Ah.. perhaps
    because the other money was being stolen?

    Sounds reasonable to me.

    And yes, I do think that they all got off way too easy.
    Personally, I HONESTLY think they should have all been
    sentenced to life at hard labor. It might then send a message.

    We all know Black got off way too easy too. He should have
    gotten life in prison.

  • superman Oct 16, 2007

    Little do u know-- a complete audit of every school system is done each year. You just might wanna be aware that Wake County Schools spends 3 million a day. 3 million a day over a period of one year is a lot of money. Before you critize you need to know some important facts. Schools have independent audits every year. Sometimes it is is hard to find a needle in a haystack. Also the mention of bonds has nothing to do with the school bus garage. The bond money can only be used to purchase land and construction costs. Geez-- some of you need to get educated. Bond money has nothing to do with the school bus garage or any current operating expense. The bond money is an entirely different pocket.

  • shine Oct 16, 2007

    Estes and the rest are not doing anything out of the ordinary .... they just got caught.

    I wish they would stop spending so much time on the
    "little fish" and go up the ladder and start frying the bigger ones.

    Don't get me wrong the little fish need it also - but the big ones - 5 million is a penny jar to them.......

  • ladyblue Oct 16, 2007

    They didn't collect one fra ction of what was lost over the years. Shame those people aren't all behind bars for a logn long time...I too would like to know why Wake county seems to never have anyone to audit their books for the school systemn as much as they loose.

  • mramorak Oct 16, 2007

    They might never know how much money was lost?WELL I HOPE WE HAVE SOMETHING IN PLACE NOW !could some one please explain why we might not never know how much money was lost?Did some family member get a car or house or a cushy job for the government.

  • drewbyh Oct 16, 2007

    All government officials take heed. Bend 'em over Bubba!

  • smitty Oct 16, 2007

    They should end up in the mystery meat in the cafeteria.

  • Jokers Wild II Oct 16, 2007

    WoW! All of those clowns should be in prison for a LONGGGG time!

  • TheAdmiral Oct 16, 2007

    He should have gotten the chair.

    No wonder we keep passing ludicrous sized bonds. Fry 'em!