A former Iredell County Sheriff's captain, accused of submitting a fake college diploma to get more pay, pleaded guilty in federal court in Charlotte on Wednesday to theft from a government program.
Mark Stephen McCollum, 51, of Mooresville, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. He was employed by the sheriff's office from 1987 until his resignation in December.
Iredell County had a policy that employees who completed post-secondary educational degree programs were eligible for salary increases. Employees who earned a four-year degree would receive a 5-percent pay increase.
Federal authorities said McCollum received a 5 percent raise in 2005 after submitting a document purported to be a diploma from Pfeiffer College for a bachelor of arts degree.
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The Pfeiffer College diploma was fictitious, authorities said. McCollum did not earn a four-year degree from Pfeiffer or any other institution, they said.
McCollum received more than $8,000 in additional pay based on his submission of the fictitious degree, prosecutors allege. McCollum has agreed to pay about $8,000 in restitution to Iredell County, authorities said.
McCollum's sentencing date has not been set.