Local News

Convicted Felon Terminated From UNC After WRAL Investigation

Posted August 17, 2006 10:38 a.m. EDT

— A convicted felon who worked as an accounting technician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was immediately fired by the chancellor on Thursday after WRAL started asking questions.

In May, a federal jury convicted Regina Woods, 45, and her husband, Isaac Woods, on 32 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, making false statements and money laundering.

At the time of the indictment and trial, Regina Woods worked for the Office of Sponsored Research at UNC-Chapel Hill, which helps administer close to $600 million in research programs.

More than two months after the conviction, Woods remained a full-time accounting technician at the research office, making about $36,000 a year.

A man who identified himself as a supervisor referred WRAL to the university's public relations department after inquiries about her Thursday morning. He appeared to be familiar with Woods' conviction.

In a statement released a few hours later, Nancy Davis, associate vice-chancellor of university relations, wrote to WRAL: "Chancellor (James)Moeser learned of that issue today and has directed Ms. Woods' employment with the university be terminated immediately."

It is unclear what kind of access Woods had to sensitive information at the university.

Prosecutors said the Durham couple stole identities and made up fake mortgages through their lending company, Woodbai Inc.

In one instance, investigators allege, the Woodses made up a $161,000 mortgage for a home that is supposed to sit at 904 Cook Road in Durham. A picture was presented in court showing a vacant lot. Jurors determined the Woods sold the phantom loans on the so-called secondary mortgage market.

Taking advantage of federal backing meant to cover lenders who help low-income buyers, the couple accumulated more than $1 million in illegal funds.

Regina Woods' sentencing is set for November. Just one of the 36 counts carries up to 30 years in prison.

She did not return WRAL's requests for comment.