Players in Wake schools fraud case working again
Posted November 10, 2008
Raleigh, N.C. — Former employees of the Wake County Public School System and a Wilson-based automotive parts supplier are working again while they serve prison sentences for their roles in a fraud scheme.
The Department of Correction says Vern Hatley, the former director of the school system's transportation department, has an outside work assignment with the Town of Hillsborough Public Works Department and also gets passes to go to church.
Officials say Hatley is considered a Minimum Security II offender, which means he can have an outside work assignment without a competitive wage.
Hatley and three other former school system employees, pleaded guilty in 2005 for their roles in the multimillion-dollar scheme involving fake orders for automotive parts. Two former employees of Barnes Motors & Parts are also serving sentences.
Carol Finch, a former budget manager for the school system, and Connie Capps, a Barnes employee, are also working in the laundry room in the Fountain Correctional Facility for Women.
Bobby Browder, also a Barnes employee, is allowed to leave prison every day for a job in the plumbing industry.
Capps' husband, Harold Estes, was the only person charged in the case who did not plead guilty. Two years ago, a judge sentenced him to a maximum of 15 years in prison after he was convicted of conspiracy and obtaining property by false pretenses.
The other figures in the case received sentences ranging from 60 days to 10 years in prison.