***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.
First, 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 #90: 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 with this case, private school leadership can be naive and overly trusting. Who would set out to purposely harm someone at 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.”
He joined the church and volunteered to be treasurer giving him access to and control over the 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.
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 million dollar lakefront house. However, the project ran short on funds, so to free up more money, he made school employees take a cut in pay claiming it was due to severe economic conditions.
To hide his side-hustle he opened approximately more than 20 checking accounts, obtained more than 20 credit cards, took out loans, and created several 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, 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.
If you thought this case was interesting or an isolated case, check out this earlier post: Associate School Superintendent
What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
Thanks for reading!