February 24, 2024

After being arrested on more than a dozen wire fraud charges one year ago, a former Town of Chapel Hill employee was sentenced to prison time this week.

A release from the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday said a federal district court judge sentenced 57-year-old Kumar Neppalli to 44 months in prison and ordered him to pay nearly $1 million back to victims he defrauded. Neppalli was arrested in January 2023 on 17 counts of wire fraud and six money laundering charges, the former of which he pleaded guilty to.

Neppalli, who is a Cary resident, worked as a transportation engineer for the Town of Chapel Hill. He retired from the local government in the fall of 2021 — around when Chapel Hill elected officials began receiving messages about Neppalli scamming people out of their money. At the time, the town government told Chapelboro it was reviewing Neppalli’s actions and later clarified after his 2023 arrest that no “irregularities” were found in his work with Chapel Hill.

But prosecutors said Neppalli was leveraging his relationships in the Indian American community in the Triangle to take people’s money. The Justice Department said Neppalli would falsely tell people he had real estate opportunities in Orange County and use his employment with the Town of Chapel Hill to convince them he had insider knowledge of development plans. He would then ask people to invest their money with his projects, usually requesting a specific amount within a short…

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