Justia White Collar Crime Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law
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Shulick, an attorney, owned and operated DVHS, a for-profit business that provided alternative education to at-risk students. The School District of Philadelphia contracted with DVHS to operate Southwest School for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. DVHS was to provide six teachers at a cost of $45,000 each; benefits for the staff at a total cost of $170,000 annually; four security workers totaling $130,000 annually; and a trained counselor and two psychology externs totaling $110,000 annually. The agreement was not flexible as to budgeted items. Shulick failed to employ the required dedicated security personnel, hired fewer teachers, provided fewer benefits, and paid his educators far less than required. Shulick had represented to the District that he would spend $850,000 on salary and benefits annually but spent about $396,000 in 2010-11 and $356,000 in 2011-12. Shulick directed the unspent funds to co-conspirator Fattah, the son of a former U.S. Representative, to pay off liabilities incurred across Shulick’s business ventures, keeping a cut for himself.Shulick was convicted of conspiring with Fattah to embezzle from a program receiving federal funds (18 U.S.C. 371), embezzling funds from a federally funded program (18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(A)), bank fraud (18 U.S.C. 1344), making a false statement to a bank (18 U.S.C. 1014), and three counts of filing false tax returns (26 U.S.C. 7206(1)). The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments ranging from speedy trial violations to errors in evidentiary rulings, faulty jury instructions, and sentencing miscalculations. View "United States v. Shulick" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Arise, a Dayton community school (charter school), faced declining enrollment, financial troubles, and scandal after its treasurer was indicted for embezzlement. The school’s sponsor sought a radical change in administration, elevated Arise’s former principal, Floyd, to superintendent, removed all board members, and appointed Floyd’s recommended candidates to the new board. Floyd set up a kickback scheme, using former business partners to form Global Educational Consultants, which contracted with Arise. Global received $420,919 from Arise. While Global was being paid, Arise teachers’ salaries were cut and staff members were not consistently paid. Arise ran out of money and closed in 2010. The FBI investigated and signed a proffer agreement with Ward, the “silent partner” at Global, then indicted Floyd, Arise board members, and Global's owner. They were convicted of federal programs bribery, conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, and making material false statements, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(B), (a)(2); 18 U.S.C. 371; 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2). Two African-American jurors reported that they were initially unconvinced; the jury foreperson, a white woman, reportedly told them that she believed they were reluctant to convict because they felt they “owed something” to their “black brothers.” This remark prompted a confrontation, requiring the marshal to intervene.The Sixth Circuit affirmed their convictions, rejecting arguments based on the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision, Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado. Although Pena-Rodriguez permitted, in very limited circumstances, an inquiry into a jury’s deliberations, this case did not fit into those limited circumstances. View "United States v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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ITT is a for-profit institution with more than 140 locations and offers post-secondary education. Leveski, who worked at the ITT campus, alleged, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3730(b) that ITT knowingly submitted false claims to the Department of Education to receive funds from federal student financial assistance programs under the Higher Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1001. The district court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, finding that the allegations had already been publicly disclosed and that Leveski was not the original source of the allegations. The court granted sanctions of $394,998.33 against Leveski's lawyers. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding the allegations that ITT paid illegal incentive compensation throughout Leveski’s employment as a recruiter and financial aid assistant, sufficiently distinct from prior public disclosures to give the court jurisdiction. The court noted the lack of temporal overlap with allegations by other ITT employees and Leveski’s more detailed allegations. View "Timothy J. Matusheski v. ITT Educational Services, Inc" on Justia Law

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Hill, Director of Risk Management for Detroit Public Schools invited Washington to submit a proposal for a wellness program for DPS employees. Washington and others joined Associates for Learning (A4L) and submitted a proposal quoting $150,000 for a pilot study. Contrary to DPS policy, Hill did not open competitive bidding or execute a written contract, and made payments by wire transfer, rather than by check. Hill, who later left DPS testified that he met with Washington to discuss larger amounts. Washington paid Hill five percent of the invoice amount for assistance in getting the invoices paid. Invoices totaling more than a million dollars for “future work” were paid. The partners met in public places to distribute cash. Washington was convicted of conspiracy to commit program fraud, 18 U.S.C. 371 and 666, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, 18 U.S.C. 1956. The district court enhanced Washington’s base offense level by 22 levels, finding that Washington was an “organizer or leader” and that the amount of loss to DPS was more than $2.5 million, and sentenced her to 84 months. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that Washington was not prejudiced by errors made by counsel and that the evidence was sufficient. View "United States v. Washington" on Justia Law

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Watkins, an African-American, worked for the school district, overseeing security systems. Fultz supervised Watkins and, relying on Watkins’s advice, Fultz awarded Vision a $182,000 annual contract for service of security cameras. Vision’s president, Newsome, testified that Watkins called her and talked about a “finder’s fee.. Newsome went to Cleveland for a customer visit. She e-mailed Watkins and he replied: “Absolutely$.” Newsome believed that Watkins expected her to pay him at their meeting. Newsome notified Fultz. At the meeting, Watkins requested “an envelope.” After Fultz contacted police, the FBI recorded meetings at which Newsome gave Watkins $5,000 and $2,000. A white jury convicted on two counts of attempted extortion “under color of official right” (Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951), and one count of bribery in a federally funded program, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(B). The court determined a total offense level of 22, applying a two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice, another two-level enhancement for bribes exceeding $5,000, and a four-level enhancement for high level of authority, plus an upward variance of 21 months under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), and sentenced Watkins to six years’ incarceration. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to jury instructions, sufficiency of the evidence, the jury’s racial composition, and the reasonableness of the sentence.View "United States v. Watkins" on Justia Law