Wake County court clerk faces jail time in bond fraud scheme
Posted 4:25 p.m. Monday
Raleigh, N.C. — A former Wake County court clerk pleaded guilty Monday to being the inside man in a scheme to cheat the Wake County Public School System out of $1 million.
Kelvin Ballentine, 39, admitted to conspiring with bail bondsmen to change court records on the computer for a fee. The result was that money intended to go to the schools was never collected.
Authorities said electronic court records were falsified in 307 cases between 2008 and 2013 to reflect that the bondsmen had paid bonds for criminal defendants who failed to show up in court when they had not.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who was clerk of Superior Court at the time, said she quickly pinpointed Ballentine as the source of the problem after one of her assistants pointed out irregularities in the bond records.
Ballentine was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, accessing computers and altering court documents.
Under a plea deal, Ballentine, who cooperated with investigators and testified against his co-defendants, was sentenced to a minimum of 3 ½ years in prison and apologized in court for his actions.
“I apologize to the court, to the clerk Lorrin Freeman, to my family. I put a lot of strain on them…just sorry for the situation I have caused,” Ballentine said.
Ronnie Smith, one of three bondsmen charged in the scheme, was acquitted of fraud charges in August while two others were previously convicted.