The adoptive father of missing Rowan County teen Erica Parsons was one of the first people to walk into the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem on Thursday morning, arriving just minutes before 8:00 a.m. to on trial for fraud charges.
The trial opened at 9:45 with jury selection. A total of 78 people were called from the state's middle district. Of that 78, only 60 were actually present, prompting Judge Thomas Schroeder to say "I'll deal with those people at a later date."
Several potential jurors were dismissed for various reasons, including poor health and a language barrier. One potential juror was dismissed after telling the judge he felt the American judicial system was "corrupt."
Sandy Wade Parsons is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, 20 counts of theft of government property, 20 counts of mail fraud, one count of making a false statement regarding food stamps and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Judge Thomas Schroeder will preside. Jury selection is expected to take a few days, the trial itself should last 3-4 days, according to sources.
Prosecutors say Parsons, and his wife Casey Stone Parsons, defrauded the government of food assistance, Medicaid and other government assistance, even after his adopted daughter Erica Parsons no longer lived at the family home on Miller Chapel Road west of Salisbury.
Sandy's tax forms also list Erica Parsons as a dependent after she no longer lived with the family, according to the indictment released in July.
On Wednesday a list of potential witnesses was submitted to the court for the trial.
Those being called to possibly testify include Tara Cataldo and Donna Hench of the FBI, Sue Tate, Micah Ennis, and Lisa Thompson of the Rowan County Department of Social Services, Anne Chaffin, formerly of Rowan DSS, Lisa Thompson and Lynn Fink of Cabarrus DSS, Frank Maroney of the Social Security Administration, and Charles Butler of the US Department of Agriculture.
Carolyn Parsons, the biological mother of Erica Parsons and former sister-in-law to Sandy Parsons, is also on the list to testify.
Those listed may or may not actually be called to take the stand.
Casey Parsons, 39, pleaded guilty to 16 federal charges Oct. 1. She is scheduled to be sentenced February 10 in Winston-Salem.
In pre-trial motions, it was agreed that federal attorneys will not mention why Erica Parsons is not at the Parsons home, or the investigation to find her, according to a court document. Prosecutors also will not introduce any evidence of child abuse regarding Sandy Parsons related to Erica Parsons or his four biological children.
Erica Parsons was reported missing by her adoptive brother in July of last year, two years after she was last seen at age 13. She still has not been found, and there have been no charges in her disappearance.
Casey and Sandy Parsons have said Erica went to live with her biological grandmother named "Nan" in Asheville. Investigators have said the grandmother doesn't exist. She last lived with the Parsons on Dec. 17, 2011.
A $50,000 reward is offered for information on the disappearance or whereabouts of Erica Parsons. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rowan Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700.