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Academy coach arrested in Ohio
Warrant for fraud issued in local court
1 Prep Academy mug
Darren Wesley

The director of a local sports academy was arrested in Ohio on Tuesday, hours after a Dawson County judge issued a felony warrant against him for fraud.


Darren Wesley, director of North Georgia College Prep Academy, has reportedly written at least $2,300 in bad checks for catering services.


According to Dawson County Sheriff's Lt. Tony Wooten, the 39-year-old Wesley was arrested in Akron, Ohio.


On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Tony Tarnacki heard testimony from catering business owner Cathie Waddell. Wesley did not show up in court.


Because of the amounts of the checks -- one for $1,000, the other for $1,300 -- both carry felony charges.


The original amounts of the checks in Waddell's report totaled more than $5,000, but one of them was not signed by Wesley.


Following the hearing, Dawson authorities faxed a copy of the warrant to authorities in Ohio, who then took Wesley into custody.


Students of the sports academy, whose Web site touts it as a nonprofit college preparatory school, were playing an exhibition game Monday against a team in Ashland, Ohio, which is about 50 miles west of Akron.


A spokeswoman with the Summit County Jail confirmed that Wesley was being held there.


Wooten said Dawson County investigators are trying to obtain additional warrants for Wesley.


The academy has recently drawn fire from the city of Dawsonville as well.


Mayor Joe Lane Cox said Monday that the academy has operated for more than two months without a business license.


Housed on the campus of now defunct Southern Catholic College, the academy is next to the Gold Creek subdivision in the city limits.


Cox said the academy is in violation of city code and could face a fine "if they don't comply."


"We've put together a letter to notify them, but who are we going to send it to?" Cox said.


Wesley has not been seen on campus for nearly a month, the mayor said.


And Cox isn't the only one looking for him.


Several other reports filed in the past several weeks involving Wesley total more than $10,000 in alleged insufficient funds, Sheriff Billy Carlisle said.


Most of the reports have come from employees of the academy.


It appears financial troubles have followed the academy, which moved to Dawsonville in July from Columbus, Ohio.


According to Franklin County, Ohio, Municipal Court records, Wesley was taken to court for an eviction Dec. 30, 2009, under the business's former name, Columbus Post Graduate Sports Academy.


He paid $162 in restitution fines, according to court documents.

Columbus Post Graduate Sports Academy was located in an apartment at a complex called Sunny Isles in northern Columbus.


Cox said city officials have had little contact with Wesley since the academy moved to Dawsonville.


He recalled being skeptical after their initial meeting.


"I was a little bit leery," the mayor said. "The man came in with no business cards, nothing official looking ... He had to write their telephone number on a piece of paper, and that telephone number is no good now."


Phone calls to Wesley have not been returned.


As of Tuesday afternoon, the phone number was no longer operational.


A man in the academy offices referred all comment to Wesley, but did not know where he was.


City Clerk Bonnie Warne said in order for a business like the academy to receive its license, the fire marshal and health department must inspect the facilities.


"Those two steps were not taken," said Warne, adding that a business has 60 days to get its license.


After that time, owners are in violation and subject to a fine.


Despite the director's absence, coaches and students reportedly remain on campus.


Many of the students, who range in age from 17 to 20, have traveled from far away to attend the academy in pursuit of college football scholarships.


Southern Catholic College, which ended classes due to a lack of funding, has been leasing its campus to the academy on a month-to-month basis.


Officials with the college could not be reached for comment.


Staff Writer Michele Hester contributed to this report.