Former Headmaster Is Charged With Wire Fraud For Stealing Nearly $9 Million From Huntersville Area School And Affiliated Church
The Defendant Allegedly Used the Embezzled Money to Fund Lavish Lifestyle
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Wayne C. Parker, Jr., the former headmaster of a Huntersville area parochial school is facing federal charges for embezzling nearly $9 million from the school and its affiliated church, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. A criminal bill of information was filed (today) in federal court, charging Parker with one count of wire fraud.
U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Chief Cleveland L. Spruill of the Huntersville Police Department.
“For more than a decade, church members, parents, teachers, students and generous donors put their trust in Parker t lead their school and fulfill its goals and mission. Instead, Parker misused his access to the school and church’s finances, treating their bank accounts as an endless cookie jar, dipping in repeatedly to fund his lavish lifestyle. Parker then went to great lengths to conceal his fraud and to prevent law enforcement and others from uncovering the truth,” said U.S. Attorney Rose. “If Parker’s moral compass was not enough to stop him from breaking the law and ripping off those who put their faith in him, a good dose of American justice will.”
“It takes an especially ruthless person to steal money intended to educate children and promote religion and use it to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle you’d otherwise never be able to afford. Wayne Parker forced pay cuts for teachers during the great recession to fund building a million dollar lake home, bought multiple properties, a boat, even gold, all using the funds that rightfully belonged to a school and its affiliated church. The FBI will work tirelessly to uncover and expose these types of crimes, no matter what lengths offenders take to try and hide their fraudulent schemes,” said FBI’s Special Agent in Charge Strong.
“I am pleased that we were able to work with the FBI to put an end to more than a decade of thievery by Parker and that this investigation has resulted in charges being brought against him,” said Huntersville Police Chief Spruill. “His selfish actions violated the faith and trust of the church, the parents, the students and the community that he was entrusted with serving.”
According to allegations contained in filed court documents, from about January 2000 to in or about August 2014, Parker executed a scheme to defraud his employer, a parochial school (School) and its affiliated church (Church), both located in Huntersville, of at least $9 million, by embezzling Church and School bank funds to pay for his personal expenses and the personal expenses of an unnamed co-conspirator.
Parker, 59, of Mooresville, N.C., joined the Church in 1991. Court documents allege that sometime after joining the Church, Parker became volunteer treasurer, giving him access to and control over the Church bank accounts. In 1996, Parker was hired as Headmaster of the School, which was founded in 1994 by members of the Church. As headmaster, Parker was responsible for the administration of the School and its finances and had control over its bank accounts.
As alleged in filed court documents, beginning in at least 2000, Parker began stealing money from the Church and School and used it to pay for personal expenses. For example, in 2000, when he needed extra money to build a house for his family in Mooresville, Parker stole approximately $100,000 from the School and Church to complete the project. Over the next 14 years, court documents allege that Parker used School and Church funds to pay for numerous expenses, including, among other things, the purchase of multiple plots of real estate; the building of two homes, one costing over a million dollars; vacations around the world; luxury vehicles; luxury dining; Carolina Panthers preferred seats licenses; credit card bills; a boat and jet skis; gold and silver coins; and gifts for family and friends.
According to court records, as part of the scheme to siphon School and Church funds, and to hide his theft, Parker opened approximately 29 checking accounts, obtained 26 credit cards, seven loans, and created nine limited liability companies.
As alleged in filed court documents, in addition to embezzling funds for his own use, Parker also embezzled School and Church funds at the direction of an unnamed co-conspirator. Court documents allege that beginning in 2000, Parker issued additional paychecks to the co-conspirator above and beyond what he was entitled to by the terms of the co-conspirator’s employment. As the scheme progressed overtime, in addition to extra salary checks, Parker used Church and School funds to pay for the co-conspirator’s personal expenses, including college tuition, medical bills, taxes, cars, and credit card bills.
As part of his scheme, and to hide his embezzlement activities from the School’s governing board, Parker created a false, fraudulent and fictitious document from an accounting firm purporting to be the results of an audit, court documents allege. The document falsely stated that the School had been through a full audit and received an unqualified opinion letter giving the School a clean financial bill of health.
According to allegations contained in court documents, in the summer of 2014, after the Church leadership became suspicious of Parker’s activities and called for an independent audit, Parker intentionally stole and destroyed school financial records in an attempt to prevent law enforcement and others from discovering the nature and extent of his embezzlement activities. Additionally, Parker sold one of the houses that he had constructed with embezzled funds to one of his children, for a significantly undervalued price, to hide his crimes and prevent law enforcement from seizing that property. In total Parker’s scheme resulted in a loss of at least $9 million dollars to the Church and School.
A plea agreement was also filed today, and Parker is expected to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge to formally enter his guilty plea when the court schedules the plea hearing. The wire fraud charge carries maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, Parker has agreed to pay restitution, the amount of which will be determined by the Court at sentencing.
The investigation was handled by the FBI and the Huntersville Police Department. The prosecution for the government is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Zolot of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.