A 25-year-old former administrator of the Newman Catholic Student Center at UNC has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the organization, according to court records.
Brian L. Cansler joined the Newman Center in 2014 as director of administration and later added the job of finance director, according to the center’s website.
Cansler, of 2701 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill, is accused of embezzling $157,192.80 between Nov. 1, 2014 and June 1, 2016, according to court records. He is accused of using a company credit card to purchase personal items and paying himself a salary higher than authorized, records state.
In addition to embezzlement, Cansler is charged with obtaining property by false pretenses and financial card fraud, both felonies, according to court records. He turned himself in to authorities Monday and made his first appearance in court Tuesday. Chief District Court Judge Joe Buckner released him under a $150,000 unsecured bond.
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He is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 23.
In a statement, the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish and the Diocese of Raleigh said “a significant amount of money has been reported as allegedly misappropriated.”
The missing money was discovered between two audits, the statement said. The money was reported missing to Chapel Hill police on July 27, said Lt. Josh Mecimore, and an arrest warrant was issued for Cansler on Aug. 16.
“As a result of the diocesan insurance program, no ministry or outreach at the UNC Newman Center will be impacted,” the statement continued. “The Diocese will ensure that the parish is able to fulfill its financial commitments and serve the needs of the faithful and community.”
A call to the Newman Center was referred to Diocese spokesman Billy Atwell, who said the groups had no further comment. Atwell declined to say what Cansler’s salary was or answer questions about the insurance.
Cansler graduated from UNC in 2013 with a degree in linguistics and African languages. His research focused on endangered languages in Mali, and he made three trips to West Africa, where he suffered three bouts of malaria, according to the Newman Center’s website.
Joint Statement from the Newman Catholic Student Center Parish and the Diocese of Raleigh
This letter is written to you regarding a very serious and saddening topic that is likely to be reported publicly in the coming days. A former business manager at the UNC-Chapel Hill Newman Center has allegedly breached his financial and moral responsibility to the parish community, and a significant amount of money has been reported as allegedly misappropriated.
Upon discovering the financial irregularities, and after thorough review, the UNC Newman Center promptly reported the findings to the criminal authorities. The person of interest in this case has been charged by the Chapel Hill Police Department; and the UNC Newman Center and the Diocese of Raleigh have been actively cooperating with law enforcement authorities.
As many of you know, the Diocese conducts regular audits of parish financial records. In this case, the alleged financial improprieties began after one audit concluded and before the next audit was conducted.
While the Diocese and UNC Newman Center have implemented protocols and procedures to do everything humanly possible to monitor such situations, we believe this was an isolated case where the proper protocols were manipulated and circumvented. Thus, we will be actively reviewing ways in which the existing policies and procedures can be strengthened.
As a result of the diocesan insurance program, no ministry or outreach at the UNC Newman Center will be impacted. The Diocese will ensure that the parish is able to fulfill its financial commitments and serve the needs of the faithful and community. Please keep all involved at the UNC-Chapel Hill Newman Center in your prayers.