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School administrator found guilty of bribery and fraud

One of the differences between a violent crime and a so-called white collar crime is the type and amount of evidence generated. A shoplifting charge in Lansing might have one eyewitness report and hard-to-view video surveillance recording. A white collar crime could have months of emails and data files, receipts, invoices, bank statements plus wire tap transcripts. By the time a charge is made, there could be a lot more evidence.

The type and amount of evidence was not made public, but it was apparently enough to convict a former River Rouge school official of bribery and mail fraud. The 53-year-old school administrator is facing 10 years in prison for bribery and 20 years in prison for mail fraud. Each felony charge is eligible for a $250,000 fine.

According to news sources, the charges stem from the administrator's alleged preference of a specific tutoring vendor for the school district. She was accused of accepting thousands of dollars in payments from tutoring vendors, while telling parents that the tutoring program was mandatory, when it was in fact optional.

When the Michigan Department of Education learned of the inappropriate actions, they recovered $160,000 in funds that they have given the River Rouge School District. The reason the potential bribery and mail fraud came to light was not mentioned.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Inspector General and the Michigan Attorney General's Office.

The fact that three separate governmental entities were involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case brings up another important point. The government has significant resources that it is willing to dedicate to prosecution of fraud charges. In order to have a fair chance of an acquittal, it is a wise idea to obtain legal counsel that has significant experience with white collar crime criminal defense.

Source: The Detroit News, "Former River Rouge school official guilty of bribery, mail fraud," Nov. 15, 2012

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