HUNTERSVILLE, NC (WJZY) - The former headmaster of a Huntersville area parochial school pleaded guilty Thursday, July 28 to embezzling nearly $9 million from the school and its affiliated church, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Wayne C. Parker, Jr. was released on a $25,000 bond. A sentencing hearing in this case has not yet been set.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. With Parker's plea deal, he faces 7 to 9 years.
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.
This investigation was handled by the FBI and Huntersville Police Department.