Hatley appeals ruling on guilty plea

From Staff ReportsFebruary 11, 2006 

Former Wake County school transportation director Vernon Hatley is appealing a judge's decision that could force him to spend at least seven years in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud taxpayers of least $3.8 million.

Barry Nakell, Hatley's attorney, mailed a request Friday appealing Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens' decision last week to not allow his client to withdraw his guilty plea and get a jury trial. Stephens sentenced Hatley to seven to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors have charged school transportation employees with conspiring with managers of a parts supplier to submit thousands of fake invoices for payment so they could pocket the money for personal use. Hatley admitted to accepting gifts worth $22,772.64 but said he was an unwitting dupe of one of his employees.

Nakell said Hatley is undergoing processing by the state Department of Correction to determine where he will serve his sentence. It's uncertain whether the state Court of Appeals will agree to hear the case.

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