N.C. State University police have seized thousands of emails between a former professor charged with embezzling from student organizations and a former graduate student he said he was trying to help through hard times.
In asking for a search warrant on Feb. 9 to get the emails from 2011 through now, Investigator Jeffery Morales told a magistrate that Lisa Mcphatter, the former student of Charles Scott Whisnant, had emailed Whisnant after Morales talked to her and got back an email telling her not to cooperate with police.
A second search warrant that Morales got allowed him to get Mcphatter’s Wells Fargo bank records for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Authorities alleged that Whisnant wired money to Mcphatter’s account. She had been studying under Whisnant for a doctorate.
On Feb. 10, Whisnant, 57, of Garner turned himself in to face three counts of felony embezzlement. Morales charged him with taking a total of almost $72,000 from three student organizations for which he was a faculty adviser.
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The day before, he resigned from his position as animal sciences professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“On 02/03/1016 and 02/05/2016, I spoke with Lisa Mcphatter. She said that she immediately sent Dr. Whisnant an email questioning him about this matter,” Morales wrote.
“She said that he responded back and told her to not cooperate with law enforcement. She said that both her (sic) and Whisnant have communicated via email for several years.”
Morales took the approved search warrant to the school’s top lawyers, the NCSU general counsel’s office, and seized “a zip drive which contained several thousand emails,” according to the warrant that was returned to the court clerk’s office on Tuesday.
The warrant for Mcphatter’s bank records also was turned in to the court clerk Tuesday.
When Morales applied for a search warrant for Whisnant’s campus computer, he wrote that the professor “said he felt sorry for [Mcphatter] due to all her medical issues. 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.”
Arrest warrants for Whisnant said the money was being taken between Dec. 26, 2014, and Jan. 7 of this year.
Police based their charges, they said, on bank records that showed Whisnant withdrawing $750 from NCSU’s Agri-Life Council, $16,862 from the Alpha Zeta Agriculture Honors Fraternity and $54,255 from the Animal Science Club.
Whisnant is free on bail on the embezzlement charges. He is scheduled for another court appearance March 28.