Fraley sentenced for theft from late mother-in-law; civil suit pending

Published 12:09 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

SALISBURY — Kim Yost Fraley was sentenced Friday to serve a minimum of three years and two months for her June conviction for financially exploiting her deceased mother-in-law, Edith Fraley, with a maximum sentence of just over six years.

Fraley and her husband, William “Bill” Fraley, are both defendants in a separate civil lawsuit filed by William Fraley’s sister, Cynthia Miller. That suit is still pending.

However, on May 18, 2019, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation filed an indictment against Kim Fraley, and she was arrested by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office on May 23 of that same year.

Kim Fraley was convicted on three counts of exploitation of an older adult on June 5. Three counts of obtaining property by false pretenses were dismissed by the court.

Initially, sentencing was postponed due to Fraley’s medical conditions, which were not specified, but following a pre-sentencing investigation by the Rowan County Probation Office, Fraley appeared in court July 8 before Judge Jonathan Perry, who presided over the trial in May.

All three charges are felonies, but two are class F, meaning the theft was valued at more than $100,000 and one was a class H, meaning the value was less than $20,000.

Either the prosecuting attorney can request or the judge can decide to allow a defendant with multiple charges to serve multiple sentences concurrently, meaning they are all served together. In Fraley’s case, the sentences are to be served consecutively, so she will have to serve some time for each charge.

Individually, she received sentences of 16-29 months for each of the class F felonies, and 6-17 months for the class H. Fraley can appeal the conviction, but she was taken into custody on Friday and incarcerated after the judge denied release until an appeal is filed. Fraley had been out on bond during the trial and up until sentencing.

Jordan Ford, a financial crimes prosecutor for the NC Conference of District Attorneys, represented the state in the case, confirmed Friday’s sentencing and that Fraley has also been ordered to make restitution of $267,698. However, he was unable to say to whom restitution would be made yet.

“That is something that is still being sorted out,” he said, noting that a financial institution is involved. “It would, most naturally, go to the estate of the deceased mother-in-law, but there are additional considerations.”

At the time of the thefts, Fraley was employed by Brady, a registered financial consultant for Thrivent Investment Managements, where her late mother-in-law’s accounts were held.

In 2017, concerned about withdrawals she had not authorized, Edith revoked the attorney-in-fact status previously granted to Bill Fraley, assigning it instead to Miller and Robert Fraley.

During a discussion of family care, the magnitude of the missing funds became apparent and Miller filed a fraud report with Thrivent, which reimbursed the account $139,814, saying it believed the withdrawals had been signed by Edith Fraley and were “processed in good faith.” It is likely Thrivent will seek to be reimbursed by Kim Fraley for those funds they returned to Edith Fraley’s estate.

Meanwhile, in the civil suit, Miller alleged that between 2013 and 2017, Kim and Bill Fraley “converted nearly all of the plaintiff’s account assets…totaling more than $370,000, for their own personal use and enjoyment.” Kim Fraley is accused in the suit of forging Edith Fraley’s signature on numerous withdrawal slips, and contends “William (Bill) Fraley was aware of and complicit in the actions of Kim Fraley in preparing the Thrivent withdrawal request forms for each of the …Thrivent withdrawals, and such funds being transferred to an account owned by himself and/or Kim Fraley.”

Documents indicate Miller and Robert Fraley allegedly confronted Bill Fraley about the stolen funds, and they say he admitted he and Kim had taken the money and offered to pay it back in installments of $100 a month, telling the two he “couldn’t afford to do any more.” He also allegedly said, according to the suit, that “he and his family had no intentions of changing their lifestyle whatsoever.”

Kim and Bill Fraley have been owner/operators of Chapman Custom Signs, Inc. in Salisbury for decades, and Bill Fraley is still listed as owner of the business.

Ford said there are currently no criminal charges pending against Bill Fraley, and when asked if there might be charges forthcoming, he said he would have “no further comment about Bill Fraley.”