Jurors find Sandy Parsons guilty of fraud
Jurors have found Sandy Parsons, the adoptive father of missing Rowan County teenager Erica Parsons, guilty on nearly all the federal fraud charges he faced, court documents said.
Sandy Parsons and his wife, Casey, were arrested in July on a 76-count indictment that included mail fraud, tax fraud and identity theft. Court documents said the couple continued to receive adoption and health care benefits for Erica, who had not been living with them.
Casey Parsons, 39, accepted a plea agreement in September and is expected to be sentenced Feb. 10. Sandy Parsons, 40, will be sentenced Feb. 18.
Sandy Parsons’ trial began last Thursday and ended Monday in Winston-Salem. He took the witness stand Friday and claimed that he only signed what Casey put in front of him and didn’t know about the fraud.
Court documents said the trial would not address the investigation into Erica’s disappearance, but focus on the fact that the Parsonses continued to receive benefits and falsified documents in order to continue receiving benefits.
Erica was reported missing in July 2013, but had actually not been seen by the family since late 2011. Sandy and Casey’s biological son, Jamie, now 21, told Rowan County Sheriff’s officials he had not seen his sister and initially pointed the finger at his parents, alleging they were responsible for her disappearance.
The couple maintain they let Erica live with a woman who claimed to be Erica’s biological grandmother, Irene “Nan” Goodman. The Parsonses have said Nan lived in Asheville and Erica was with her.
Investigators have said all along there was no Irene Goodman. Goodman family members have also said Irene did not exist.
The couple have not been charged in Erica’s disappearance.
The indictments say the Parsonses received government-funded adoption assistance, Medicaid, Social Security, and Food and Nutrition Services benefits for a dependent who did not live with them and used the mail to commit the fraud.
The indictment also alleged that Casey Parsons fraudulently used the identities of other persons as dependents and used other false information when preparing federal tax returns.
On Friday each side presented evidence, wrapped up their cases and jurors began deliberating by the early evening. Jurors continued deliberations at 9:21 a.m. Monday and by 12:22 p.m. had returned with a verdict.
According to WBTV’s David Whisenant, who was in the courtroom, Casey Parsons was in court for the entire court proceedings until the verdict was read Monday afternoon. Casey Parsons left the courtroom just before the verdict.
Sandy Parsons was found guilty of one count conspiracy to defraud the government, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years, consecutive to any other sentence and a $250,000 fine; one count false statement to a government agency, which carries a maximum sentence of two years and a $250,000 fine; 20 counts of theft of government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and 20 counts of mail fraud, which carries a maximum of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
“They did not find him guilty on all of the objects of the conspiracy. But they really only need to find him guilty of one count of the object to have it stick,” said Sandy Parsons’ attorney John Bryson, according to WBTV reporter David Whisenant.
Bryson said what they do know is Sandy Parsons will go to prison for at least two years.
The case was investigated by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations and the Social Security Administration.
A $50,000 reward is still in place for information about the disappearance of Erica Lynn Parsons.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, 1st. Lt. Chad Moose at 704-216-8687 or Investigator Sara Benfield at 704-216-8739.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.