A former El Paso, Texas, school superintendent is reportedly awaiting trial on federal fraud and theft charges. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy, one count of mail fraud and one count of theft of federal funds. Having since resigned from his post, the former superintendent was arrested in August and subsequently released on $50,000 bail.
According to federal prosecutors, the Texas school district paid $360,000 under a no-bid contract for math materials that were intended to prepare students for standardized testing. The superintendent allegedly failed to disclose that he had a financial stake in the company. Further, he is accused of lying on his 2006 proposal to the board when he said that the company (Infinity Resources & Associates) was the only place from which the materials could be procured. Prosecutors also claim that he failed to disclose a personal relationship with the owner of the company. The company owner has not been charged.
The district apparently awarded a $450,000 contract for test preparation materials. Part of the bid included a sworn affidavit from the owner of the company that it was the only provider of the specialized Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills materials. Included in the materials were 26 charts containing various basic math equations and conversion tables. The company charged $319,000 for access to the charts, as well as an additional $40,500 for 18 days of supplementary coaching to ensure the efficacy of the products. The company received two checks for $180,000 each for materials and training from kindergarten through the fifth grade.
The allegations in this matter are typical of the types of white collar crimes charged federally. While this school superintendent resigned his position, he also stated that his resignation should not be construed as an admission of guilt. Like anyone else facing criminal charges, the man in this case must be presumed innocent unless or until proven otherwise. It remains to be seen what the conclusion of this matter will be, as the case makes its way through the federal criminal justice system. One thing is certain: the former superintendent is fighting for his continued liberty in the face of allegations that, if not successfully defended against, could result in a substantial term of incarceration in a federal penitentiary. That is why he and other Texans accused of white collar crimes deserve a strong and meaningful defense in a court of law.
Source: Star-Telegram, “El Paso schools chief resigns amid charges of theft- fraud,” Juan Carlos Llorca, Nov. 9, 2011