Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ex-Skiatook, Oklahoma superintendent pleads guilty to bribery charges


Former Skiatook Public Schools superintendent Gary Johnson pleaded guilty Wednesday to four new charges of accepting cash bribes totaling $10,000 from an Oklahoma City vendor for district custodial supplies and security equipment.

Also filed this morning were four charges of bribery of a public official/employee against the vendor, Rick Enos, who is accused of bribing Johnson for the same amounts.
Johnson, in a written statement released after his plea before District Judge Tom Gillert, said his actions "represent a breach of the trust that had been placed in me by the students, parents, teachers and officials in Skiatook."
Indictments unsealed in June 2010 accused Johnson, 56, of embezzlement and bribery of a public official in connection with a state audit that found overspending by the school district for supplies and equipment.
The indictments were returned four months after a state audit found that the school district paid Enos -- through his Oklahoma City companies E&E Sales and Austin Security -- $570,000 more than it would have paid for custodial supplies and security equipment had it bought them directly.
Tulsa District Attorney Tim Harris said Wednesday that he was dismissing charges connected with the indictment in exchange for Johnson waiving his right to a preliminary hearing and pleading guilty to the new counts, which allege Johnson accepted bribes on four occasions between Jan. 10, 2008, and December 15, 2008.
The cash amounts were $2,000 (Jan. 10, 2008), $2,500 (June 9, 2008), $3,000 (Aug. 14, 2008) and $2,500 (Dec. 15, 2008).
"When my actions initially came to light, my first reaction was to deny, rationalize and attempt to explain them away," Johnson said in his written statement. "This only compounded the problem I had caused. I soon realized that the only thing to do was to admit what I had done and attempt to rectify the situation, accepting whatever punishment is deemed appropriate. I apologize to everyone who has been affected by my actions, and I hope for their eventual forgiveness."
Johnson, who remains free on bail, entered a "blind" plea, meaning no agreement has been reached regarding his punishment. Each count carries a prison sentence upon conviction of up to 10 years and fines $5,000 per count.
“I believe that Gary Johnson has accepted responsibility for his criminal activity,” Harris said.
“We want justice for the taxpayers. We want justice for the children that suffered because of his actions. He understands that. I understand that.”
The cash exchanges between Johnson and Enos normally occurred at Johnson’s administrative office in Skiatook, although other exchanges occurred in Norman, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Seattle, Wash., documents show.
It was understood that the give-and-take was to be kept secret and that Johnson was to continue to recommend that the school district order janitorial supplies and security equipment from Enos, E&E Sales and Austin Security, records indicate.
Johnson failed to check the prices of the supplies and didn’t encourage the district to bid out the supplies to ensure the lowest prices, documents show.
Harris said Johnson is cooperating with state authorities and with a federal investigation that is looking into Johnson, Enos and the Skiatook school system.
Johnson began doing business with E&E Sales about 13 years ago when he worked as a principal in Elmore City, Okla., and the friendship continued when Johnson came to Skiatook a few years later, according to an affidavit filed by Ronald R. Emmons, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner.
Gillert, who withheld a finding of guilt, scheduled sentencing for Oct. 17.
An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Enos, 58.

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