Local News

Court Rules Against Appeal in Wake Schools Fraud Case

Posted October 16, 2007 11:14 a.m. EDT

— The only person not to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving the Wake County Public School System lost his appeal on Tuesday to overturn his conviction.

But the North Carolina Court of Appeals did send the case back to the lower court to fix a clerical error by the court, which entered a judgment against Harold Estes for embezzlement when he was charged with and found to be guilty of obtaining property by false pretenses.

Estes was sentenced to 11 to 15 years in prison in August 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. They later married.

Six other people, including his wife, Connie Capps, pleaded guilty for their roles in the 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.

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