This Christian School Headmaster Was Especially Ruthless

Blog post #98First, thank you for taking time from your busy life to read my post. I believe with knowledge of school violence and awareness we can make a difference.

Some crimes involving schools aren’t violent. Nonetheless, they negatively impact everyone in the school and to some degree the community as well.

BLOG POST #98: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving the Headmaster of a Christian School.

First red flag: One year before he joined the church, the headmaster was convicted of federal tax violations.

Are All Christians Honest?

Private schools have more control than public schools enabling the board of directors to take action more swiftly. At the same time, as you’ll see in this post, private school leadership can be naïve and overly trusting. Who would set out to purposely harm a Christian school, right?

The FBI special agent in charge, in this case, said it best:

It takes an especially ruthless person to steal money intended to educate children and promote religion and use it to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle you’d otherwise never be able to afford.”

Become Indispensable

He joined the Church in 1991 and volunteered to be treasurer giving him access to and control over the Church bank accounts. If you’ve ever been a part of a group or organization run by volunteers, you know, it’s not easy to fill vital positions like secretary, treasurer, etc.

In 1994, members of the church opened a Christian school. Two years later, the church hired the volunteer treasurer to be Headmaster of the School.

As the chief financial officer and headmaster, the board of directors gave him control over the finances and bank accounts.

It’s a Shell Game

He began siphoning money from the church and school 4-years after becoming headmaster. His crime spree ran 16-years. During that time he stole close to 9-million dollars or an average of more than $500,000 per year.

He purchased several real estate properties; luxury vehicles; a boat and jet skis; gold and silver coins; preferred seating season tickets with the local NFL team; and gifts for family and friends. He also took his family on vacations around the world and enjoyed luxury dining. He used school and Church money to build a lakefront house for approximately $1.2 million dollars. However, the project ran short on funds, so he made school employees take a 5% cut in pay claiming it was due to severe economic conditions.

To hide his theft, he opened approximately 29 checking accounts, obtained 26 credit cards, 7 loans, and created 9 limited liability companies.

He also created false audit findings from a fictitious accounting firm stating the school had been through a full audit and received an unqualified clean financial bill of health.

The Jig is Up

Second red flag: His lavish lifestyle became blatant and excessive for the income he received. Finally, the Church leadership became suspicious and called for an independent audit.

In an attempt to prevent law enforcement and others from discovering the nature and extent of his embezzlement activities, he intentionally stole and destroyed school financial records.

He was arrested and charged with embezzlement. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60-months in federal prison and to pay restitution of more than 9-million dollars. Upon release, the former headmaster was also ordered to serve 3-years under court supervision.

What do you think about this case? Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

If you thought this post was interesting, check out this earlier post: Associate School Superintendent

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

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Internal Wire Fraud

internal-wire-fraud-fbBLOG POST #90: This week I’m sharing research on a superintendent of a kindergarten through 12th-grade school district. Although this crime doesn’t physically harm students, it speaks to the character of a person who was the leader and decision maker in the school district.

He worked for the school district for over 37-years. The last 15-years he was the superintendent. After he retired, he was a school board member for five years in the same district. He was so well-liked; a school building was named in his honor.

One of the school board members was a whistleblower in this case. It was investigated by the FBI for two years. During the two-year period, the two investigating FBI agents attended many board meetings.

During the former superintendent’s final eight years, he caused others in the school district to falsely report his inflated salary to the state retirement system. The inflated salary improperly included fringe benefits; car/travel stipends, insurance premiums, a tax shelter annuity, district vehicle payment, and unused vacation pay. His retirement salary was based on the inflated salary.

You might wonder how this became a ‘wire fraud’ case. The salary contribution information was transmitted to the state retirement system using the Internet. The information hit various servers and crossed state lines, making it a federal wire fraud crime.

In a victim impact statement, it was said, “He created an intimidating and fearful culture in which laws were viewed as nothing more than obstacles to be overcome in the promotion of self-interest.”

The former superintendent pleaded guilty to one count of federal wire fraud. He was sentenced to one year plus one day in federal prison, without the possibility of parole. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $662,000 to the Public School Retirement System.

“Today’s criminal felony conviction brings to conclusion an extensive, thorough investigation into fiscal wrongdoing in the school district,” the United States Attorney said.

What do you think about this case? Do you know of a school crime that you feel others should be made aware of? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

Associate School Superintendent Sentenced to 12-Months in Prison

Photo of front griill on a JaguarThe School District of the City of Pontiac, a world class school district, is located in Pontiac, Michigan. The district’s core values include Safe and Orderly Schools. Embezzlement isn’t a direct safety threat to school children; indirectly everyone pays the price when someone in a position that controls the money embezzles. If wrongdoing can happen at the School District of the City of Pontiac in Michigan, it can happen anywhere.

He was the Associate School Superintendent and acting CFO of Pontiac Schools when he directed a subordinate to issue a $236,000 check to his Leadership Academy. He provided the district with a fraudulent invoice to validate the expenditure. Later, he transferred the money to his personal account from which he financed travel and purchased a Jaguar.

You can read the full FBI Press Release here: Associate Superintendent

The former Associate School Superintendent pleaded guilty to one count of defrauding a program receiving federal funding, including Title I funding. He was sentenced to twelve months in prison, one year of home confinement, and three years of supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to pay $336,000 in restitution to the school district.

School officials who steal money are particularly culpable because they are robbing children of their education, said U.S. Attorney McQuade.

Regarding the case, United States Attorney Barbara McQuade said. “Among all of the corruption defendants we charge, school officials who steal money are particularly culpable because they are robbing children of their education.”

He served his sentenced and was release 8/5/2014.

What are your thoughts on this crime?

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Research Blog

Welcome to Robin’s Investigative Research Blog!

Each week,  she posts about true crime cases similar to what you’d see on investigative news shows. Her focus is on crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Most cases have an outcome, few are positive. You decide if the outcomes are just. 

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

Disclaimer:  All data and information provided on this site is for information and research purposes only and not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. Criminal cases may have been appealed or verdicts overturned since a case was researched.  All information is provided on an as-is basis. The opinions expressed by individuals providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Robin Lyons.

Financial Technician Sentenced to Fifteen-Months in Prison

Gambling chipsREADER BEWARE.

The topic of a real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

Read my research and anything linked at your own discretion.

She was a trusted financial technician for the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a regional magnet Governor’s School, a school that requires students to maintain a cumulative B-average to remain a student in good standing, a school that believes responsibility and integrity are core principles in the pursuit of excellence. It became known that the former financial technician lacked integrity when she pleaded guilty to theft from an organization receiving public funds. If wrongdoing can happen at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, it can happen anywhere.

We will hold accountable those who breach the public trust.

In 2008, she began stealing funds by writing checks to herself then depositing the funds into her personal bank accounts. She also made counter-withdrawals from school accounts and deposited those funds into her personal bank accounts. She admitted to stealing more than $279,000, money that should have been spent on athletics, classes, clubs, and other student activities. She used the stolen money to support a gambling habit, pay off extensive credit card debt and pay down her large mortgage.

Read the FBI Press Release here: Account Technician

The former financial technician was sentenced to fifteen months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. United States Attorney Neil MacBride said in part. “Today’s sentence should warn others that we will hold accountable those who breach the public trust.”  At the time of this posting, she had served her time.

What are your thoughts on this?

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