Ex-school board head sentenced

Former Orange County school board member Dennis Whitling was sentenced to two years' probation after pleading guilty to embezzlement and other charges this month, according to court records.

Whitling, 53, also was disbarred after admitting that he took money belonging to the law firm where he was employed and from a trust of which he was trustee, according to the N.C. State Bar.

When a lawyer is disbarred, it is for five years, after which the lawyer may seek reinstatement, said Dottie Miani, clerk to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission.

Whitling resigned from the Orange County Board of Education in February after being arrested by Durham police and charged with embezzlement in excess of $100,000, obtaining property by false pretense, corporate malfeasance and obstruction of justice.

He pleaded guilty to all four felony charges Aug. 7, received a suspended sentence and was put on probation.

A Durham Police Department investigator applied in December for access to Whitling's personal bank account information, according to a search warrant.

In the warrant, Cpl. Bennie E. Bradley wrote that Whitling left the Durham firm owned by Thomas J. Stevens in 2007 to start his own business and may have stolen more than $58,000 from the law office where he worked from 1984 to 2007.

In 2006 and 2007, Bradley wrote, Whitling wrote himself checks for more money than was authorized, and "in 2006 Whitling issued himself six checks totaling $23,318.93 in payments not authorized by Mr. Stevens," according to the search warrant.

Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the corporate malfeasance charge referred to false entries Whitling made in the books or ledgers of the corporation. The obstruction charge referred to an annual report Whitling filed with false information.

The incidents occurred between December 2005 and September 2007. The law firm reported them in November.

Whitling was elected to the school board in 2004 and served as chairman in 2006 and 2007.