Monday, March 23, 2015

Former Firefighter In North Carolina Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $120K; Was Previously Incarcerated For Killing His Grandparents

From Civitas Media on 3/20/2015:

After 40 months of incarceration in the Scotland County Detention Center, James Rupard came face-to-face with an assembly of his victims for the first time on Thursday as he pleaded guilty to 17 felonies.

Before Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Richard Brown, the 53-year-old Rupard issued a 15-minute statement to the dozen present members of the Stewartsville Volunteer Fire Department and Scotland County Firefighters’ Association.

His words expressed contrition for the seven years he spent — while holding various positions of authority in both organizations — creating secret bank accounts and transferring thousands of dollars between them, his personal accounts, the account for his insurance business, and yet another account under his ex-wife’s name.

“From a biblical standpoint, my actions were absolutely sins,” he said. “From a legal viewpoint, they were criminal. I lived with a false sense of comfort that, because I had no intention of stealing anything permanently, only using it and replacing it, that I was not sinning, that I was not breaking any laws or rules.”

But Rupard’s words rang false with each of his victims who cared to venture an opinion. William Skipper, current president of the firefighters’ association, requested on behalf of the association as a whole that Rupard receive the maximum allowable sentence.

Rupard pleaded guilty to six counts of embezzlement, five counts of obtaining property by false pretense, four counts of malfeasance by a corporate officer, and one count of embezzlement by an insurance agent, all class H felonies carrying a maximum 30 month sentence for each. In addition, he also entered a guilty plea to a forgery charge, a class I felony with a 15 month maximum sentence.
As part of Rupard’s plea bargain, additional charges were dismissed by the state.

Following the day-long proceedings, Rupard was ordered to serve eight to 18 months active sentence, followed by six months of house arrest and an extended probation period that will last as long as it takes him to pay restitutions totalling more than $120,000.

“He broke trust with many, many, many people in this community,” Skipper said. “James had everybody fooled that he could possibly fool. He is a master manipulator.”

The prosecutor, senior assistant District Attorney Joanna Shober, chronicled Rupard’s move to Scotland County in the 1990s and the process by which he ingratiated himself with the community, volunteering with the Stewartsville fire department and the firefighters’ association as well as the American Red Cross and Republican Party.

In 2009, when Rupard was initially charged with insurance fraud, Scotland County learned the shocking past of a man it had welcomed with open arms 10 years earlier.

For 15 years, Rupard served time after conviction for second-degree murder in the 1978 shooting deaths of his grandparents, Ruth and Lester Rupard, who raised him, in Banner Elk.

Rupard was released in 1994. According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, he was last incarcerated at McCain Hospital in Hoke County.

Rupard was also a licensed insurance agent and the owner of American Insurance Marketing, and the pastor of Sandhills Community Church. Ironically, Shober pointed out, Rupard sent about $2,600 of the misused funds to Campbell University for his divinity school tuition.


Read the whole exhaustive story here.

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