Former Fayetteville basketball coach pleads guilty in embezzlement case

Heath Curtis Vandevender


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Fayetteville man pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling more than $300,000 in state funds.

Heath Curtis Vandevender, 48, was arrested in Wake County in February and charged with felony embezzlement of state property, the North Carolina Department of Revenue said.

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Vandevender served as vice president of Truth Outreach Center, Inc. in Fayetteville.

Warrants say Vandevender aided and abetted the corporation to embezzle, misapply, and convert to its own use $388,422.68 in North Carolina withholding tax between Jan. 2008 and Dec. 2015, the Department of Revenue said in a release.

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On Wednesday, Vandevender pleaded guilty to embezzling the funds and put the money into Trinity Christian High School’s operating fund. He worked as the schools basketball goal.

As part of plea agreement, Vandevender is sentenced to 3 months in jail and 60 months probation.

Vandevender attorneys say this case is different than other embezzlement cases because their client did not pocket the money. They say he used the money to help fund a school that was constantly running on limited funding.

“It’s an unusual set of circumstances for the reason I just mentioned because fundamentally this gentleman, other than receiving a salary for teaching, did not receive any profit whatsoever from not paying these bills,” said defense attorney Trey Fitzhugh.

Vandevender was responsible for collecting and holding taxes for employees at Truth Outreach Center, Inc.

The charges against Vandevender resulted from an investigation by a special agent with the Department’s Criminal Investigations Section in Raleigh.

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