Local News

Warrant: NCSU professor took money to buy car, pay bills for former grad student

Posted February 17, 2016 3:05 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2016 7:02 p.m. EST

— A former North Carolina State University professor used money from student groups he advised to buy a 2015 Toyota Prius and pay other bills for a former graduate student, according to a search warrant released Tuesday.

Charles Scott Whisnant, 57, of 1013 Flanders St. in Garner, was arrested a week ago on a charge of embezzlement, one day after he resigned his position as associate professor in the Department of Animal Science.

The treasurer of the Animal Science Club tipped N.C. State auditors off to discrepancies in the club's bank statements on Jan. 14, and University Police were brought in to investigate, officials said.

The investigation expanded to Alpha Zeta Agriculture Honors Fraternity, the agriculture honors society, and the Agri-Life Council, an umbrella organization of recognized student groups in the College of Agriculture of Life Sciences.

According to an affidavit from an N.C. State investigator to obtain a warrant to search Whisnant's office, a check of bank records for the three clubs and found that Whisnant wired more than $50,000 into a woman's bank account between last February and November and made about a dozen cash withdrawals for another $14,000 between December 2014 and Jan. 7 – a week before the investigation began.

None of the clubs authorized the transactions, nor did any faculty supervisors, the affidavit states.

Whisnant told investigators that he felt sorry for a former doctoral student who had medical bills and a car that couldn't be repaired, so he sent her money to buy a Prius and to help pay her bills, the affidavit states. The woman said Whisnant had set up a bridge loan for her, but university officials said there is no record of any loan, according to the affidavit.

Whisnant's supervisor said he found financial records in the former professor's office after his resignation that indicated Whisnant was trying to put money back into the club accounts from his retirement account and correspondence between Whisnant and the woman about buying computers and coordinating what they planned to tell N.C. State officials, the affidavit states.

Police seized a desktop computer from Whisnant's old office, along with bank statements, wire transfer records, ATM receipts and other documents, according to the search warrant.