Oklahoma: EPIC Charter Founders Arrested and Charged with Financial Crimes

ByLavinia E. Smith

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The online charter sector not only has abysmal tutorial records, but it’s ripe pickings for scammers. The founders of Epic charter colleges in Oklahoma are charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, racketeering and other crimes.

Oklahoma Observe stories:

Epic Constitution Schools’ founders, who were being arrested Thursday, shifted hundreds of thousands of university bucks to business credit history playing cards, which have been made use of to make political campaign donations, fund a lobbyist and fork out personalized expenses like holidays, the Oklahoma Point out Bureau of Investigation alleges in court docket documents.

Adhering to a yearslong investigation into alleged embezzlement of taxpayer funds, the co-founders of the state’s most significant on the internet college had been arrested Thursday, alongside with the longtime main fiscal officer, court records display.

David Chaney, 43, Ben Harris, 46, and Josh Brock, 40, had been booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Middle Thursday morning. Every single is charged with racketeering, embezzlement, acquiring money by bogus pretense, conspiracy to commit a felony, violating the Oklahoma Computer system Crimes Act, submitting wrong documents to the point out and unlawful proceeds.

Investigators mentioned the males ran a complicated legal company utilizing the on line charter school and a for-revenue organization, Epic Youth Services.

The scheme has price tag the state a lot more than $22 million, according to the OSBI.

The expenses entail co-mingling of resources, too much and unwanted management costs, use of Oklahoma tax dollars in California, political impact, concealment of revenue, submission of phony invoices and the unlawful use of staff.

Just one of the school’s greatest recruitment equipment, the mastering fund, was utilized to conceal illegal buys, agents alleged. For the learning fund, Epic tends to make at least $1,000 available to every single student yearly in a digital account. Mom and dad can allocate these bucks for curriculum, laptops and extracurricular pursuits.

Moms and dads never obtain the income immediately. Rather, they request a invest in from Epic and the college transfers the dollars to Epic Youth Expert services, which pays the vendor.

Chaney and Harris applied a independent financial institution account to make learning fund buys, and investigators discovered Chaney and Harris didn’t return unused studying fund pounds.

The account obtained just about $145 million involving 2015 and 2021. More than 50 situations, Chaney, Harris and Brock transferred community resources from the studying fund account to the non-public lender account for Epic Youth Expert services, which was then employed to fork out a lobbying agency. Cash Gains, a lobbying agency run by Robert Stem, a longtime friend of Harris’, was paid out additional than $500,000.

Make sure you open up the url to read the relaxation of the tale. Marketing campaign contributions go a extended way in direction of steering clear of accountability.