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Former finance director charged with embezzling more than $150,000 from UNC's Newman Center

Brian Lee Cansler, a 25-year-old UNC graduate, turned himself into the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Aug. 22, said Lt. Josh Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Justin Ross, pastor and campus minister at the Newman Center, reported suspected embezzlement July 27, police records state.

“We conducted an investigation, and on Aug. 16, we obtained a warrant for his arrest,” Mecimore said.

The alleged embezzlement and fraud was committed between the conclusion of one audit and the start of another audit of the parish’s financial records, according to a joint statement released by the Newman Center and the Diocese of Raleigh.

“While the Diocese and UNC Newman Center have implemented protocols and procedures to do everything humanly possible to monitor such situations, we believe this was an isolated case where the proper protocols were manipulated and circumvented,” the statement said.

All three charges are felonies. Mecimore said Cansler allegedly stole about $150,000.

“When you go over $100,000, it goes from a class F to a class C and it becomes a much more serious felony,” he said.

In the statement, the Diocese said the diocesan insurance program will ensure the Newman Center can fulfill its financial and pastoral commitments.

Cansler appeared in court on Aug. 23 and was released on a bond of $150,000, records state. He is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 23.

Cansler’s attorney, Matthew Charles Suczynski of Chapel Hill, could not be reached for comment.


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