WILKESBORO — A Ronda resident has been charged in an embezzlement case at Wilkes Community College following an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.
William Wesley Poplin, 52, appeared in court this week after being charged by the SBI Aug. 20. He has been charged with five felony counts of embezzlement and seven felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense.
Prior to being arrested, Poplin served as the chair of the continuing education, occupational education and community service division at Wilkes Community College. He was originally hired on Nov. 7, 2001, as director of Community Service/Occupational Extension in the continuing education division, according to Dr. Jeff Cox, president of WCC.
In a statement regarding the case against Poplin, Cox noted that Poplin’s employment was terminated effective Aug. 13 at 8:30 a.m.
“A recent audit of records within the college’s Continuing Education division revealed discrepancies with respect to classes for which Mr. Poplin had been receiving compensation,” said the statement. “Given the information that was discovered as a result of this internal audit of records, WCC President Dr. Jeff Cox referred the matter to District Attorney Tom Horner for evaluation.
According to a release from the SBI, Horner requested the SBI’s assistance with the investigation.
“Thereafter, the college has fully cooperated with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in furtherance of its investigation,” the statement read.
“I am pleased with the staff’s response to this situation,” said Cox. “We take our role as stewards of taxpayers’ money seriously, and we will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement as they complete their investigation.”
The state community college system in Raleigh was notified of the issue by Cox, and the WCC president has requested an independent audit to assure all relevant facts are determined, noted the college statement.
The same day Poplin was charged Cox sent a formal letter regarding the college’s audit findings, with the letter being requested be Poplin, according to its contents.
In the letter Cox explained, “As a trustee of public funds and confidence, Wilkes Community College conducts systematic reviews of classes taught by its instructors and their related compensation. A recent audit of records within the college’s Continuing Education Division revealed discrepancies with respect to classes for which you have been receiving compensation.”
The charges are in reference to Poplin’s alleged creation of classes which didn’t exist, identifying himself as the instructor for the classes and accepting payment for teaching the classes.
After being charged, Poplin was given a $25,000 unsecured bond, and after being processed at the Wilkes County Jail was released.
The investigation is ongoing.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.