Local News

N.C. Appeals Court to Hear Wake Schools Fraud Case

Posted July 7, 2007 9:05 a.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2007 9:07 a.m. EDT

— The only suspect not to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving the Wake County Public School System will have his case heard before the North Carolina Court of Appeals in September.

Harold Estes was sentenced to 11 to 15 years in prison on Aug. 25, 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.

Six other people pleaded guilty in 2005 for their roles in the scheme 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.

Another key player in the scheme, transportation budget analyst Carol Finch, was sentenced to six to eight years.

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