Former teacher Wesley arrested

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

DECATUR, Ga. -- Abraham Wesley allegedly continued his pattern of misrepresenting himself and his qualifications when he was arrested recently for deposit account fraud and bad checks, out of state, a DeKalb County Sheriff's Office clerk said.

Wesley, 28, was released from jail on a signature bond Sept. 11 after he had portrayed himself as a bishop and used bad checks to purchase a condo, rent a church and buy music equipment, according to a WSB-TV report.

The former Albany High teacher who was fired in February 2009 for allegedly attempting to engage in sexual misconduct with a student also faces warrants filed this week by the Dougherty County School System Police Department for first-degree forgery, a felony, and forging a teacher local certificate, a misdemeanor, DCSS Assistant Chief of Police J.C. Phillips said.

Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said a first-degree forgery conviction carries up to a 10-year sentence.

It was a Herald investigation in June 2009 that brought to light Wesley's forgery of a Howard University transcript that he used to gain employment by the DCSS in August 2008. DCSS Public Information Director R.D. Harter said Wesley lost his teacher certification as a result of the DCSS Police investigation. Harter also noted that Board of Education Chairman David Maschke "made sure we didn't accept his resignation and instead terminated him."

"It wasn't necessary before because it was handled all administratively, and he definitely won't have anything to do with the Dougherty County School System," Phillips said of the year-plus delay in the issuing of the warrants. "The Georgia (Professional) Standards Commission revoked his teacher certification, and the cause for the warrants being taken right now was we're working with our district attorney's office."

Edwards admitted the long delay in pursing Wesley on the DCSS forgeries doesn't look good.

"I don't want to sugarcoat it, but it could have been made earlier," he said. "I would acknowledge that. If (the DCSS Police Department) had the evidence they had relative to the forgery, they could have had that earlier. But, like I said, every investigative agency can move at its own pace. We cannot let investigations or prosecutions be driven by the timetable of the media."

Edwards also said: "There's been no negotiations between the district attorney's office and Mr. Wesley, referring to any plea bargains or any matters to my knowledge."

Although the DCSS Police Department has warrants out on Wesley, Phillips said it's far from clear when he will appear in an Albany courtroom.

"When he's arrested up there on Dougherty County warrants, he'll be transported from there to here," he said. "We certainly realize that the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office has plenty to do already, and I don't know how much priority they will put on one of our warrants.

"It could be next week or it could be next year, there's no way to tell," he continued. "It's a combination of things, depending on how busy they are (up) there and how good he is at eluding them. People exist for years with warrants (out on them) and forget themselves until they get picked up."

During Phillips' investigation of Wesley, he said there's a distinct pattern of deception by Wesley. Prior to working for the DCSS, Wesley worked at Turner Job Corps and Phillips found that Wesley had "lied on his application." Wesley listed on his application with the school system that he served with the United States Marine Corps from September 2001 to July 2005, finished with an E-5 rank (sergeant) and was given an honorable discharge. Phillips said that he uncovered that Wesley left the branch with "other than honorable discharge."

Phillips also explained to The Herald why Wesley was never charged in the alleged "sexting" of a 16-year-old on Albany High's girls basketball team that caused him to be terminated from the school system. DCSS Attorney Tommy Coleman said in May 2009 that Wesley had allegedly started texting a player whose cell phone happened to be held at the time by basketball coach Telly Turner. The coach had taken the phone during a playful game of pillow fighting with the team during the squad's region championship celebration sleepover with some of the coaches at the Comfort Suites Hotel on Dawson Road.

Coleman said Turner started texting Wesley back, pretending to be the girl. Turner said in a police report that Wesley began getting more sexual with his texts. Still pretending to be the girl, Turner suggested meeting Wesley by a Dumpster behind the hotel to avoid being seen.

When Wesley showed up at 3 a.m., the teachers and coaches confronted him, Coleman said. They reported him to Albany High's principal, and he was soon fired by the School Board.

"The student never actually saw the texts ... the child never had the phone," Phillips said. "Before anybody saw them, the coach deleted the text messages. The phone messages were subpoenaed, but the phone company purges (text messages) on the average of every three days.

The records do show that the text messages go back and forth just by the phone numbers, but it doesn't indicate what was said."

As a result, Phillips said no charges were filed by the DCSS Police Department on the alleged sex texting because "the probable cause never existed to make an arrest."