COVINGTON - The head coach of Eastside High School's football team was arrested over Thanksgiving break in connection with a mortgage fraud investigation dating back to 2004 and 2005.
Joseph Richard "Rick" Hurst, of 1575 Henderson Mill Road in Covington, turned himself in at the DeKalb County Police Department around
1 p.m. on Nov. 24 after DeKalb County issued a bench warrant on Nov. 13; he bonded out after 6 p.m. the same day on $5,000, according to the DeKalb County Online Judicial System.
The arrest stems from an investigation brought to the DeKalb County Police Department on Nov. 22, 2005.
According to an incident report from the DeKalb County Police Department, Consumer Mortgage Services of West Chester, Pa., alleges that Hurst was involved in a mortgage fraud situation from Dec. 20, 2004, to April 8, 2005.
In September 2005, the company contacted the Gwinnett County Police Department about the incident; a representative of the company alleges that a property in Lilburn had been fraudulently purchased.
"(The company) advised the purchaser, Joseph R. Hurst Jr., utilized the services of Anthony Brewer (broker) of Homequest Financial Services Inc. (655 Village Square Drive, Stone Mountain, GA 30083) to secure a loan for $297,000.00 with (the company)," the report reads. "(The company) identified the appraisal company as Piedmont Realty with the appraiser listed as Arthur Heidgerken. He noted that the appraisal of said property was apparently inflated."
Consumer Mortgage Services alleges in the incident report that D. Enterprises Inc. received an unexplained disbursement of more than $91,000 at closing at the closing attorney's office of Aforo & Kadiri LLC in Stone Mountain.
"(The company) also explained that there were additional issues with documents that surrounded this transaction," the incident report reads. "(The company) additionally relayed that this loan had been sold to Wells Fargo who reported no mortgage payments had been made by the borrower as of 8/05."
The incident report said that further investigation by the Gwinnett County Police Department revealed that Hurst had purchased five properties since December 2004 with the same appraiser and closing attorney in DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties.
The police are still investigating the case, but charged Hurst, along with Ebun Adebola Aforo of Stone Mountain, Anthony Brewer of Lithonia, Amy Gutierrez of Hoschton, Dennis Gutierrez of Hoschton, Arline Harvey of Clarkston and Arthur L. Heidgerken of Commerce with theft by taking in connection with the incident.
Hurst, who was hired from Gwinnett County Public Schools by the Newton County School System on July 2, 2005, and serves as a biology teacher and head football coach for Eastside High School, had his arraignment set for Jan. 5, 2009, according to the DeKalb County Online Judicial System.
"I'm looking forward to clearing my name," Hurst said on Monday. "I learned a valuable lesson not to trust anybody with your name or credit. ... If I knew I was doing anything illegal, I wouldn't have done anything."
He said he's already talked to students, football players and many parents about the incident and is encouraged that he is backed by the school administration and the Newton County School System.
"We are aware of the situation involving Mr. Hurst, as he has been diligent in informing the administration of the investigation. Mr. Hurst has been forthright in his communications with the school administration and with the central office, as recent events have unfolded," said Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for NCSS.
"Although we are always concerned when any employee is arrested, we are fortunate that this situation does not pose a threat to the safety of the students with whom Mr. Hurst is entrusted as a teacher and coach. With this said, we are committed to monitoring the allegations and legal actions closely and are acting in accordance with local personnel policies/procedures and state law governing reporting these types of infractions."
Hurst said he plans to continue teaching and coaching while dealing with the case, as he has done over the past four years.
"I'm going to work this out," he said.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.