Volume 4 Number 49
December 7, 2007

CFO SINK ANNOUNCES ARREST OF SCHOOL PRINCIPAL FOR ALLEGEDLY STEALING VOUCHER FUNDS

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announces the arrest today of a Pinellas County resident for allegedly stealing more than $256,897 from a school voucher program under the Department of Education (DOE).

Marva H. Dennard, 68, owner of the private school Bishop Academy II – GSFA, Inc. in St. Petersburg, is charged with first-degree grand theft and first-degree aggravated white collar crime following an investigation by the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Office of Fiscal Integrity, in connection with the State Attorney’s Office, Sixth Judicial Circuit. Dennard is accused of taking the funds from the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program (McKay) and the Corporate Tax Credit (CTC) Scholarship.

“Stealing money intended to provide educational opportunities for Florida’s students cannot and will not be tolerated, and I commend the investigators and prosecutors for holding this individual accountable,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the department.

Investigators said Bishop Academy II targeted the low-income minority population of Pinellas County by pursuing students who qualified for McKay and CTC scholarships by offering “free scholarships.” From July 2002 through June 2005, Bishop Academy II received $782,896.75 in McKay funds and $225,904 in CTC funds.

Dennard is accused of inflating student numbers, submitting scholarship applications that falsely indicated tuition at $3,500 or $7,500 when the actual tuition was $2,600, simultaneously collecting funds for students receiving both McKay and CTC scholarships, submitting inflated fee schedules for individual students to DOE in order for Bishop Academy II to receive the maximum McKay scholarship payments, and failing to provide the professional services prescribed and paid for by DOE.

The Office of Fiscal Integrity is responsible for statewide investigations of allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse involving State of Florida property and money. To report fraud, waste, or abuse of State of Florida resources, call 1-800-GET-LEAN (1-800-438-5326) or the Office of Fiscal Integrity directly at 850-413-5514.