A scientist charged with embezzling nearly $72,000 from the bank accounts of three student clubs at N.C. State University was helping a financially struggling former doctoral student who thought she was getting a loan, according to details pieced together by a campus police investigator.
In an application for a search warrant for former professor Charles Scott Whisnant’s office computer, Detective Jeffery Morales said Whisnant told him in a Jan. 26 interview that the money went “to help his former Ph.D. student Lisa A. Mcphatter.”
“He said he felt sorry for her due to all her medical issues,” Morales told the Wake County magistrate who granted the search warrant. “He stated that her car had broken down and it could not be fixed. He stated that on 02/13/2015, he wired her $14,000.00 for her to purchase a 2015 Toyota Prius.”
Whisnant resigned as an animal sciences professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on Feb. 9, Morales said. Morales charged him with three counts of felony embezzlement, citing information from bank accounts that showed withdrawals of $750 from NCSU’s Agri-Life Council, $16,862 from the Alpha Zeta Agriculture Honors Fraternity and $54,255 from the Animal Science Club.
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That went on between Dec. 26, 2014, and Jan. 7 of this year, the arrest warrant alleged. Whisnant was the faculty adviser for the three clubs.
Whisnant, 57, of Garner, surrendered on those charges and has been freed on bail.
Morales said registration records show that Mcphatter has a 2015 Prius.
Whisnant told the detective “that the other monies went to pay for her medical expenses and her trailer,” he wrote. There is no description of what medical issues Mcphatter has had.
“I spoke with Lisa Mcphatter, and she said that Dr. Whisnant has been sending her money because he allegedly set up a bridge loan for her. I checked with the Animal Science business office, and they said that no such loan exists,” Morales stated.
It appeared from paperwork that Todd See, head of the Animal Science department, found in Whisnant’s office after he resigned that Whisnant may have tried to move money from his retirement account into the student accounts.
There also is an indication that reports to NCSU police about unauthorized withdrawals from the student accounts may not have been the first look officials took at Whisnant and Mcphatter.
“Dr. See went on to say he discovered other material showing correspondence between Dr. Whisnant and Lisa Mcphatter discussing various issues including the purchase of items such as computers with the funds. The computers are unaccounted for at this time,” Morales wrote in the search warrant application he submitted Monday.
See also told Morales that “some of the communications” he found in the office “discussed the coordination of their story to university officials as a result of a previous investigation involving them.”