RALEIGH, N.C. — Four suspects charged in a yearlong fraud investigation involving the Wake County Public School System surrendered to police Monday after being indicted last week on charges of conspiracy and obtaining property by false pretenses.
Authorities believe the suspects were key players in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving the school system's transportation department and a Wilson automotive parts supplier.
The four suspects -- Vern Hatley, the former head of the school system's transportation department; Bobby Browder, a former regional manager for Barnes Motor & Parts; Connie Capps, a former manager at Barnes; and Harold Estes, Capps' boyfriend -- along with Carol Finch, a former budget analyst in the transportation department, are accused of siphoning millions of dollars in school money by using fake orders for bus parts, according to investigators.
Investigators say the suspects made personal purchases with the money, including items such as gift cards, vehicles, golf carts, scooters and a boat.
Estes, Capps and Browder posted bond and were released Monday. Hatley, was transferred to a Johnston County jail at the request of his attorney for security reasons. Finch was arrested in connection with the suspected fraud in July and is in jail on a $1 million bond.
Prison time is anticipated for each of the five people charged so far. A total of eight employees are caught up in the investigation, including six former employees in the school system's transportation department. More arrests are expected in the next few weeks.
The school system says it has recovered $1.7 million. Since it discovered the alleged scheme, the school system has made a series of accounting changes. School board members also plan to hire an outside auditor to test the changes.
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