BAYBORO, N.C. (WNCT) A pastor from Concord is convicted of embezzlement and exploitation.
District attorney Scott Thomas announced that a Pamlico County jury convicted 63-year-old Thomas Wayne Steele of embezzlement of more than $100,000 and four counts of exploitation of an elder adult.
The Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Financial Crime Investigation Unit, jointly undertook the investigation which resulted in these charges.
According to the release, the investigation revealed that Steele, a pastor at New Life Baptist Church in Concord took more than $120,000 from a widow and family friend who resided in Grantsboro.
Bank records showed that in 2015, the money embezzled from the victim in the thirteen months following her husband’s death.
The release states, “The victim, now 85 years old, testified that she did not authorize Steele to take her money, and did not know until much later that he had used his access to her accounts, and a power of attorney that she had given him, to take her life savings.”
Following the jury’s verdict of guilty on all counts, Judge Nobles sentenced Steele to 73 to 100 months in prison.
He also ordered that Steele pay restitution to the victim of $123,367.09.
District Attorney Scott Thomas said, “This case demonstrates the importance of being aware of our older relatives and friends. The defendant’s suspicious activities were noticed by a relative of the victim and reported to law enforcement. That report led to an investigation, prosecution, and convictions. My office will continue to protect our older citizens from financial exploitation.”