Man charged with falsely collecting money for schools

Jessica PickensStaff Writer

September 19, 2012

A man went to several Elkin businesses asking for donations for a backpack lunch program for Elkin City Schools, according to an Elkin Police Department report.

There was one problem: the schools hasn’t issued the fundraiser.

Kermit Wayne Freeman, 36 of Ronda, was charged with three felonious counts of attempting to obtain money by false pretenses and three felonious counts of obtaining money under false pretenses.

According to an Elkin Police Department incident report, Freeman went to businesses such as North Elkin Tire, Castrol Premium Lube, S and D.net Sweepstakes and Blue Jeans to Bridal Alterations asking for donations for the schools on Thursday, Sept. 13, according to a Sept. 14 Elkin Police Report.

Freeman told businesses that a $10 donation would feed two children and was given at least three $10 checks, according to the report.

The manager of S and D.Net was suspicious of Freeman when he came into the business on Thursday, the report said. The manager told him she would have to okay the donation with her boss. Freeman returned to the business on Friday, and the manager asked for him to return in an hour, according to the report.

The S and D.net manager called Elkin City Schools to verify that the fundraiser Wayne was collecting for existed and was told it did not, according to the report. When Freeman returned, Elkin police were notified and responded to question him.

Freeman told police that the middle school sent home a letter with his daughter asking parents to collect money, the report said. Police told him that they had talked to the school and that no fundraiser was going on, according to the report.

Freeman was placed under arrest and found a notebook with several business cards of businesses he had gone to, attempting to collect money.

Elkin City Schools Superintendent Randy Bledsoe said if the schools are doing any fundraisers, they will issue brochures or some sort of material to give information about the fundraiser and verify that it is through the schools.

“It was brought to our attention on Friday that this was happening,” Bledsoe said. “We have issued a PSA with the radio station and are working on putting something up on our website. If anyone ever feels uncertain about a fundraiser, they are welcome to call the schools or central office.”

Freeman admitted that the school had not issued a request to collect money, but had done it on his own. He said he had used the money to put gas in his truck and buy canned food that he left outside Elkin High School at the top of the steps.

Freeman was placed under a $2,500 secured bond and faces a trial date of Oct. 23, 2012, according to the report.

“There are more charges to come,” said Elkin Police Captain Chris Leonard. “As more businesses come forward as more businesses come forward.”

“The Elkin Police Department wants our citizens to know that we are taking this seriously and will continue to investigate and prosecute persons responsible,” said Kevin Hall, School Resource Officer for Elkin City Schools. “If someone approaches you requesting you to donate money to one of the schools and they do not have documents and you feel that it is a scam, please contact the school or the Elkin Police Department.”

Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 ext. 17 or jpickens@heartlandpublications.com.