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Director pleads guilty in theft case
Deal includes one year in jail
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A former sports academy director who pleaded guilty to six counts of felony theft by deception will spend the next 12 months in jail.


After that, 39-year-old Darren Wesley will serve the next 19 years on probation as part of a plea deal agreed to last week in Dawson County Superior Court.


During work release and probation, Wesley must get a job to pay off the debt owed to the employees and businesses, most of which are local, to whom he wrote bad checks this year.


After five years, if Wesley can pay back $41,965 in restitution, his probation will be suspended.


Wesley was director of North Georgia College Prep Academy, a short-lived venture located on the former Southern Catholic College campus.


Earlier this fall, several businesses the prep academy had hired to provide services filed reports of bad checks against Wesley.


Magistrate Judge Tony Tarnacki issued a warrant for Wesley’s arrest Sept. 21. U.S. Marshals arrested him that day in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and he was later extradited to Georgia.


Wesley’s attorney, Senior Assistant Public Defender Rob McNeill, could not be reached for comment on the sentence.


During a bond hearing last month, McNeill described Wesley’s situation as that of “a man whose dreams [of a sports academy] were bigger than his skills to run it.”


Among those listed as local financial victims were: Cathie Waddell, $2,305, catering; Waymon Williams, $625, prep college employee; and Bojangles restaurant, $1,059.


Debts outside of Dawson County included $18,149 for sports equipment, $10,475 for uniforms and $9,351 for student transportation.


As of early this month, Wesley had paid more than $1,500 in restitution.

On Oct. 18, Southern Catholic College filed eviction papers to have the academy removed from the property.


Nick Bain, vice chairman of the college’s board of trustees, said Monday that all of the academy’s students had left the campus, and remaining staff would be gone by week’s end.


Bain said officials with the college have filed a civil suit against the prep academy for “underpayment” in the lease.