HUNTERSVILLE, NC (WJZY) - 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, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
A criminal bill was filed Friday in federal court, charging Wayne C. Parker, Jr. with one count of wire fraud.
According to the allegations contained in filed court documents, from about January 2000 to in or about August 2014, Parker executed a scheme to defraud his employer, Southlake Christian Academy, and its affiliated church, of at least $9 million, by embezzling church and school bank frauds to pay for his personal expenses and the person expenses of an unnamed co-conspirator.
Parker, 59, of Mooresville, NC, joined the church in 1991. Court documents allege that sometime after joining the church, Parker became a 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 about $100,000 from the school and church to complete the project.
According to court records, as part of the scheme to siphon school and church funds, and to hide his theft, Parker opened about 29 checking accounts, obtained 26 credit cards, seven loans, and created nine limited liability companies.
According to allegations contained in court records, 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 to the church and school.
Authorities said a plea agreement was also filed Friday, and Parker is expected to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge to formally enter his guilty plea when the court schedules a 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, authorities said.
This investigation was handled by the FBI and Huntersville Police Department.