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Former Superintendent and former employee accused of siphoning more than $250,000 from Houston Gateway Academy Charter School in Texas.
According to the indictment, former superintendent Richard Garza awarded a $280,841.85 no-bid contract in 2014 to a group called Hot Rod Systems to build an IT infrastructure at the new school, even though construction on the school had not yet begun.
Hot Rod Systems was owned by former employee Ahmad Bokaiyan. Prosecutors say the two Houston Gateway Academy employees agreed that Bokaiyan would wire some of that contract money into one of Garza’s personal bank accounts.
Within days of receiving the contract money from Garza, Bokaiyan wired the superintendent $164,381. The indictment alleges Garza used more than $50,000 of those funds to buy a new Nissan Armada sport utility vehicle, more than $86,500 to help purchase a condominium, and nearly $26,000 to help make payments on a house loan in Cypress. It is not the first time finances have landed the charter school district in trouble. The Texas Education Agency in 2013 found that the Gateway schools charged parents fees to enroll their children in violation of state law. In that case, a TEA director called the superintendent of Houston Gateway to explain the fee was not allowed after the Chronicle asked the agency about the letter. The superintendent pledged to halt the fee, TEA officials said. Garza, was charged with one count of conspiracy, two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, three counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally acquired property. Bokaiyan, was charged with conspiracy and three counts of wire fraud. They are now considered fugitives, according to a federal court records.