04/25/13 — Ex-school official charged

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Ex-school official charged

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 25, 2013 1:46 PM

Sprunt Hill

Former Wayne County Public Schools official Sprunt Hill has been charged with unlawfully accepting gifts and/or favors from a contractor in exchange for awarding a contract, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office announced today.

Hill, 61, of Mount Olive, is scheduled to appear in Wayne County court on April 30. His bond has been set at $2,500.

"This was part of a joint investigation by the FBI and Wayne County Sheriff's Office," according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office. "This case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office of N.C. The charges stem from the time that Hill was an assistant superintendent with Wayne County Public Schools."

Hill's alleged involvement first came to light more than three years ago, in December 2009, when the then-assistant superintendent for auxiliary services was placed on administrative leave and became the subject of an investigation that resulted in four people pleading guilty in a bid-rigging and bribery scheme.

School officials said they were cooperating with authorities, but remained tight-lipped, categorizing it as a personnel matter.

Three months later, in March 2010, officials confirmed that Hill had retired. He had been with the school system for more than 32 years, first hired in August 1977 and working at several schools, including a stint as principal at Southern Wayne High School.

In his capacity as assistant superintendent, Hill oversaw the day-to-day operations for the district, which included maintenance, custodial work, technology support and transportation. He was also involved in the construction and renovation of the schools' facilities.

Since his departure, his duties have been divided up among staff at the schools' central office.

Throughout the investigation, local and state officials have been guarded about the status of the case. School officials even suggested that Hill's affiliation was considered a separate investigation.

Two months before Hill stepped down, in October 2009, Danny Langley, director of maintenance, was placed on administrative leave. He was later charged, along with Earl Wayne Rhodes of Pikeville, also of the maintenance department. Rhodes had retired from the school system in September 2009.

The two men pleaded guilty in federal court in December 2011 to charges of public corruption in the bid-rigging scheme. Langley pleaded guilty to bribery, and Rhodes pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery. In 2012, Langley was sentenced to 84 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation. Rhodes received a sentence of three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation.

According to court documents, between 2002 and 2009 they had helped Johnston County roofing contractor All American Roofing and Construction with bids for roofing projects.

Pamela Carol Turner, 45, of Selma, owner of All American, and David Lee Tedder, 50, also of Selma, allegedly paid Langley and Rhodes a cash percentage after the company was paid by the school system for its work.

Ms. Turner was charged on July 20, 2010, and pleaded guilty Sept. 14, 2011, to structuring transactions to evade a reporting requirement. In September 2012, she was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised probation.

Her former husband, Tedder, was sentenced to two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation. Tedder, Rhodes and Langley were also ordered to make restitution to the school system in the amount of $124,074.