Friday, September 25, 2015

The Devil Made Him Do It: Berrien County Commissioner Steals Over $1 Million from Taxpayers

Former Berrien County Commissioner, Robert Wooley, was sentenced on April 20, 2015, to only 34 months in prison for embezzling more than a million taxpayer dollars from the Senior Center he directed.

Wooley forged checks for over seven years and was not charged with forgery. Judge Sterling Schrock and Prosecutor Mike Sepic are his very good friends, so he was charged with only one count of embezzlement. In Berrien County, it's all about who you know. He was never charged with forgery, although he forged over 30 checks to steal money from the seniors. The theft of funds depleted the seniors' reserves.

Robert Wooley started taking money from the senior center in 2007 and it continued through 2014. Wooley thought he was above the law.

Robert Wooley also embezzled money from the North Berrien Fire Rescue from 2011 through 2014. He embezzled over $50,000, forged checks, and was never charged with forgery.

The North County Center is one of several senior centers in the county that get a large portion of their funding from a voter-approved property tax.

A state police investigation began in January 2014 and Wooley was charged in December 2014 with embezzlement--but only attempted embezzlement, because of his friendship with Judge Sterling Schrock and Prosecutor Mike Sepic: the good ol' boys club.

The initial investigation was triggered by questionable transfers of money from senior center accounts into Robert Wooley's account. He periodically transferred funds from senior center accounts to an investment account. He then moved funds regularly from the investment account into his personal account.

After Wooley was charged with embezzling from the senior center, the fire board discovered through an audit that over $50,000 was missing, as well as several other financial irregularities, including checks with forged names. Yet Robert Wooley was never charged with forgery. He forged checks for over seven years: possibly over 100 forged checks.

Under terms of a plea agreement with his good friend Prosecutor Mike Sepic, the prosecutor's office agreed to reduce all charges and not file any additional charges in either case.

Robert Wooley should be thanking God for being a privileged white man with friends in high places. As the corruption rolls on! Evidence does not lie, but judges and prosecutors do!

-Rev. Pinkney