An employee at the Johnston County Department of Social Services in Smithfield was arrested Thursday on fraud and obstruction of justice charges. The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office arrested Chester Lorenzo Sanders, 36, of Kerriann Lane, Clayton following a criminal investigation into allegations of fraudulent activities dealing with his employment as a social worker.
Sanders reportedly worked with foster parents and the placement of foster children in their homes. Sanders is accused of soliciting cash payments from foster parents in exchange for placing foster children needing a higher level of care in their homes. Foster parents receive a higher payment for the higher level of care. In return, Sanders allegedly asked for cash payments or kickbacks be given to him for the placement.
In one warrant, authorities contend the social service worker received $380 in cash from one foster parent.
Also, Sanders illegally obtained money from foster parents who were required to attend a CPR class. The class cost $35 per parent, however Sanders charged each person $60. He reportedly obtained a total of $200 from parents from the CPR class.
The alleged offenses started in May 2019 and continued through February 2020. Additionally, Sanders reportedly contacted at least three of the foster parents by telephone in February 2020 asking them not to discuss the financial payments with anyone.
Chester Lorenzo Sanders was charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, two felony counts of attempting to obtain property by false pretenses, and two felony counts of obstruction of justice.
County officials confirmed that Chester Sanders began work as a full-time employee with the Department of Social Services in January 2011 and most recently had been a Social Worker III making an annual salary of $52,082. He voluntarily resigned from his position today (Friday).
When asked for his reaction to the arrest, Johnston County Manager Rick Hester stated today, “Mr. Sanders is no longer employed with Johnston County. It would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”
Sanders was released from the Johnston County Jail on Thursday after posting a $75,000 secured bond.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said Friday they were unable to release any additional information due to the ongoing investigation.