Crime & Courts

Huntersville pastor admits role in embezzlement of up to $1.5M from church and school

The founding pastor of SouthLake Presbyterian Church in Huntersville has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud in connection with the embezzlement of up to $1.5 million from the church and its SouthLake Christian Academy K-12 private school.

Pastor Wade Malloy admitted conspiring with Wayne Parker, the school’s longtime headmaster and chief financial officer, to embezzle at least $550,000 to pay for Malloy’s personal expenses, according to a criminal bill of information filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Charlotte.

Wayne Parker, the former headmaster of Southlake Christian Academy in Huntersville accused of embezzling $9 million from the school, walks into the Charles R. Jonas Federal Courthouse on Thursday, July 28, 2016.

Those expenses included college tuition, room and board for one of Malloy’s children, medical bills, taxes, cars and credit card bills, court records show.

Malloy’s plea hearing is scheduled for Wednesday. The wire fraud charge carries up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Malloy, who lives in Stanley, founded the church in 1991 and remained its pastor until 2014. He and church members founded the school in 1994.

When Parker was hired at the school in 1996, Malloy knew Parker had a federal conviction for corruptly obstructing and impeding the administration of the tax laws, according to the bill of information.

The embezzlement at the Huntersville church and school stretched from 2000 until 2014, prosecutors said.

To accomplish the scheme, Malloy directed Parker to issue additional paychecks to the pastor above and beyond what he was entitled to by terms of his employment, according to the bill of information. As the scheme progressed over time, Malloy directed Parker to use church and school money to pay for Malloy’s personal expenses.

The wire fraud charge stems from Parker and Malloy causing wires to be sent interstate in the form of emails and credit card payments, records show.

By the time the FBI got involved two years ago, the loss of money had long since passed staggering. Over the course of his embezzlement, Parker stole an average of $650,000 a year.

He spent it building at least two homes, including a 7,000-square-foot waterfront mansion on Lake Norman. He used the rest on international travel, luxury cars and boats, along with Carolina Panthers permanent seat licenses and tickets.

When parents donated money to the school in memory of their dead child, Parker stole it. When his accounts ran short during construction of the lake house, Parker cut the pay of school employees by 5 percent and blamed it on the economy.

As part of the maze he constructed to hide the money, Parker opened dozens of checking accounts and credit card lines. He took out seven loans and created nine limited liability companies.

Malloy and Parker resigned when church members launched an internal probe of the school finances in the fall of 2014.

Malloy could not be reached for comment this week.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak

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