A former administrator pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges that he embezzled more than $134,000 while working for UNC’s Newman Center Catholic parish.
The agreement allowed Brian Lee Cansler, 26, of Chapel Hill, to plead guilty to three felonies: fraudulent use of a credit card, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Five additional federal charges were dismissed.
Cansler will remain free on bond until a September sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court. He could face a maximum of 42 years in prison, $1.5 million in fines and several years of probation, according to the agreement.
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Court records show he still faces charges of embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretenses in Orange County District Court. A hearing is set for May 26.
Cansler’s position as the parish and campus director of finance and administration gave him full control over the Newman Catholic Student Center’s finances, a court document states.
Chapel Hill police arrested him last year following two regular audits that showed parish money was missing.
Cansler was accused of charging $126,272.92 in personal expenses to parish credit cards and cashing checks written from the parish’s bank account worth $8,000.
Prosecutors also allege he forged the signature of a Catholic priest assigned to the parish on both checks.
No Newman Center ministry or outreach was affected, Newman Center Pastor Justin Ross said. The parish recovered the money through a diocesan insurance program, he said.