Former company president charged with embezzlement

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SALISBURY — As president of Apple Baking Co., authorities say, David Michael Bates racked up more than $40,000 in unauthorized payments to himself, including $10,000 Bates invested in another pastry company.

Rowan County Sheriff’s Detective Carl Dangerfield arrested the 48-year-old Saturday. Bates was charged with 39 counts of felony embezzlement and two counts of felony obtaining signatures by false pretense.

Authorities said Robert Watts and Kevin Walser, two executives at Apple Baking Co., contacted the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 25 about a possible embezzlement. Bates had been fired Nov. 21, detectives said.

Phone calls to Apple Baking Co. — the Rowan-based business best known for its Apple Ugly pastries — were not returned Monday.

During his tenure as company president, Bates wrote checks to himself and took cash from company accounts, using the funds for his own use, according to warrants obtained by the Post.

On Nov. 1, Bates also had cable TV service installed in a private home and billed the service to the company, warrants show.

Before joining Apple Baking Co., Bates had an extensive career as a law enforcement officer at various agencies in Rowan County, including as a deputy at the Sheriff’s Office.

He also worked in the public safety office at Catawba College and unsuccessfully ran for the Rowan-Salisbury school board in 2000.

But Bates rose quickly at Apple Baking Co.

Detectives said Bates began in the summer of 2011 as a contract employee. It was not immediately clear when he took over the head job, deputies said, but he had been president since at least April.

Bates’ profile on the Internet networking site LinkedIn says he was president of the company from October 2011 through October of this year.

According to warrants, the 48-year-old made steady transactions during his time at the company. The offenses date back as far as August 2011.

The spending spree also included a $10,000 investment in Winston-Salem company B&G Pies in August of this year, authorities said.

Along with the embezzlement accusations, Bates was charged with defrauding two groups into giving him money in 2009. In each case, detectives said, he took $15,000 from the alleged victims as an investment into an amusement slide project that never came to fruition.

Deputies said the investigation into Bates remains open and detectives are continuing to look into his transactions.

He remained in jail Monday under a $200,000 bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for today.