Jury has the case now in the Sandy Parsons trial

Sandy Parson' trial begins
The financial fraud case against Sandy Parsons is now in the hands of a jury after a day and half of testimony from witnesses.

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Sandy Parsons took the stand Friday morning as the only witness called by his attorney. He testified that he never saw any of the documents that were presented by the government in the case against him. Sandy Parsons said his wife handled anything that needed to be signed and when he was asked to sign it, he would.

When asked about the tax return filed in his name that listed Erica after she was gone, he said, "I ain't never filed a tax, Casey fills them out. Casey said sign this so I signed it, later adding "that's why I got Casey, she takes care of me."

Sandy Parsons said he was more of a follower than a leader. During cross-examination, the prosecutor asked Parsons if that applied to his role as a father, asking him if he took responsibility for his children. Parsons answered, "yes."

Government prosecutor Anand Ramaswamy asked, "including Erica Parsons?" Sandy parsons answered, "She can come back any time she wants."

During closing arguments the prosecutor told the jury that Sandy Parsons "is claiming absolute ignorance to every major event of his life."

The prosecutor said that Parsons "admits what he can't deny and denies what he can't admit."  Ramaswamy told the jury that Sandy Parsons was aware that he and wife Casey were receiving the adoption assistance dollars after Erica was gone from the house, and pointed out that Sandy signed an application for food stamps at the Rowan County Department of Social Services after Erica was gone, but that the application listed her as still being in the home.

As far as Erica Parsons is concerned, the prosecutor admitted that many in the jury might be wondering what happened to the young girl.  Since that part of the case could not be discussed, the prosecutor told jurors that "this case is not about where Erica is, it's about Erica was not for twenty months."

John Bryson, the attorney for Sandy Parsons, painted a picture his client as being totally oblivious to the family finances, and said that while the government had built a good case for fraud against Casey Parsons, it had not proved criminal intent on the part of Sandy Parsons.

Bryson described his client as "essentially a carrier pigeon" for wife Casey.  He told the jury that Sandy Parsons had only a 9th grade education, and that he could not read or write very well, and had to rely on Casey to handle the family checking account.

"That was not his role," Bryson added.

In his response, the prosecutor said that Sandy Parsons showed "a level of ignorance that is astounding."

After all of the evidence had been presented, Sandy told WBTV how he thought the case would go. He simply answered, "It's now up to 12 honest people."

The jury had the case for about an  hour and half Friday afternoon before asking to stop for the weekend.

On Thursday, witness testimony capped off a fast paced day in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Schroeder that began with jury selection. The 12 person jury was selected Thursday afternoon and consisted of 6 men and 6 women. There are 2 alternates. 

The adoptive father of missing Rowan County teen Erica Parsons was one of the first people to walk into the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem on Thursday morning, arriving just minutes before 8:00 am to go on trial for fraud charges.The trial opened at 9:45 with jury selection.  A total of 78 people were called from the state's middle district. Of that 78, only 60 were actually present, prompting Judge Thomas Schroeder to say "I'll deal with those people at a later date."

Several potential jurors were dismissed for various reasons, including poor health and a language barrier.  One potential juror was dismissed after telling the judge he felt the American judicial system was "corrupt."The government prosecutor gave a very brief opening statement simply telling the jury to pay close attention to the evidence, saying that it would consists of many documents and few witnesses.

The attorney for Sandy Parsons reserved his statement and did not speak to the jury until Friday afternoon.

The first witness called in the case was Lisa Thompson of the Cabarrus County Department of Human Services.  Thompson's testimony consisted of her acknowledging a series of documents sent back and forth between Casey and Sandy Parsons and DHS.

The documents showed the timeline of the legal adoption of Erica Lynn Parsons.  One document pointed out that as the adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey were required to notify DHS immediately in writing of any change in the status or address of Erica Parsons.

It is the government's contention that Sandy Parsons did not make that notification, and continued to receive those monthly assistance checks after Erica was no longer in the home.

Sandy Wade Parsons is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, 20 counts of theft of government property, 20 counts of mail fraud, one count of making a false statement regarding food stamps and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say Parsons, and his wife Casey Stone Parsons, defrauded the government of food assistance, Medicaid and other government assistance, even after his adopted daughter Erica Parsons no longer lived at the family home on Miller Chapel Road, west of Salisbury.

Sandy's tax forms also list Erica Parsons as a dependent after she no longer lived with the family, according to the indictment released in July.

Casey Parsons, 39, pleaded guilty to 16 federal charges Oct. 1. She is scheduled to be sentenced February 10 in Winston-Salem.

In pre-trial motions, it was agreed that federal attorneys will not mention why Erica Parsons is not at the Parsons home, or the investigation to find her, according to a court document. Prosecutors also will not introduce any evidence of child abuse regarding Sandy Parsons related to Erica Parsons or his four biological children.

Erica Parsons was reported missing by her adoptive brother in July of last year, two years after she was last seen at age 13. She still has not been found, and there have been no charges in her disappearance. 

Casey and Sandy Parsons have said Erica went to live with her biological grandmother named "Nan" in Asheville. Investigators have said the grandmother doesn't exist. She last lived with the Parsons on Dec. 17, 2011.

A $50,000 reward is offered for information on the disappearance or whereabouts of Erica Parsons.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rowan Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700.

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