A former transportation director for the Wake County, N.C., public schools, Vernon Webster Hatley, pleaded guilty in Raleigh last week to conspiring to defraud taxpayers in a $3.8 million scheme to bill the district for auto parts that were never received.
Two former employees of the parts supplier, Barnes Motor & Parts Co., based in Wilson, N.C., also pleaded guilty.
Another former transportation employee for the 120,000-student district has been indicted in the scheme, which was uncovered this past summer. The defendants allegedly used the money to buy gift cards, automobiles, and other items.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby has recommended reduced sentences, of up to seven years, because the defendants have returned some of the items and have agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. The defendants could have received 20 years or more.
A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2005 edition of Education Week