A Concord pastor was recently found guilty of exploitation and embezzlement.
Thomas Wayne Steele, a 63-year-old pastor at New Life Baptist Church, was convicted by a jury in Pamlico County on four counts of exploitation of an elder adult and embezzlement of more than $100,000.
An investigation revealed that Steele took more than $120,000 from a widow and a family friend who lived Grantsboro, North Carolina.
The 85-year-old victim testified in a Pamlico County court that she “did not authorize Steele to take her money and did not know until much later that he had used his access to her accounts and a power of attorney she had given him to take her life’s savings,” according to a news release.
Steele was sentenced to 73 to 100 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections and was ordered to pay $123,367.09 in restitution.
“This case demonstrates the importance of being aware of our older relatives and friends,” said District Attorney Scott Thomas. “The defendant’s suspicious activities were noticed by a relative of the victim and reported to law enforcement. That report led to an investigation, prosecution and convictions. My office will continue to protect our older citizens from financial exploitation.”