Pastor embezzles life savings of elderly Grantsboro widow

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BAYBORO – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced this week that a Pamlico County jury convicted Thomas Wayne Steele, 63, from Concord, NC of Embezzlement of More than $100,000, and four counts of Exploitation of an Elder Adult.


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Senior Resident Superior Court Judge John Nobles presided over the trial, which concluded Friday, Jan. 31. The case was prosecuted in court by Financial Crimes Prosecutors Chuck Spahos and Jordan Ford of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, assisting District Attorney Scott Thomas.

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. 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.

Extensive bank records showed that in 2015, the money was embezzled from the victim in the 13 months following her husband’s death. 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.

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.”

Following the jury’s verdict of guilty on all counts, Judge Nobles sentenced Steele to a prison term of 73 to 100 months. He also ordered that Steele pay restitution to the victim of $123,367.


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BAYBORO – District Attorney Scott Thomas announced that a Pamlico County jury convicted THOMAS WAYNE STEELE, 63, of Concord, North Carolina, late Friday afternoon of Embezzlement of More than $ 100,000, and four counts of Exploitation of an Elder Adult. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge John Nobles presided over this trial, and the case was prosecuted in court by Financial Crimes Prosecutors Chuck Spahos and Jordan Ford of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, assisting District Attorney Scott Thomas.

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. The investigation revealed that Steele, a pastor at New Life Baptist Church in Concord, NC, took more than $ 120,000 from a widow and family friend who resided in Grantsboro. Extensive bank records showed that in 2015, the money was embezzled from the victim in the thirteen months following her husband’s death. 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.

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.”

Following the jury’s verdict of guilty on all counts, Judge Nobles sentenced Steele to a prison term of 73 to 100 months. He also ordered that Steele pay restitution to the victim of $ 123,367.09.

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