Sunday, January 19, 2014

Former Brighton charter school leader gets 10 years probation

A former school leader was sentenced to 10 years of probation for stealing federal grant money last week.

Robert Hughes, 60, pleaded guilty to embezzlement of public property in September after prosecutors said he stole almost $20,000 from a federal education grant intended for Eagle Ridge Academy.

Hughes was also sentenced to 60 days of home detention.

The grant had been awarded to the Brighton charter school to purchase about 350 Netbook computers for students, software and other program materials, according to the arrest affidavit.

The school district's annual audit found irregularities, and as school officials investigated more, they found that even though receipts and invoices showed purchases of 500 computers totaling $135,000, only 153 computers worth $79,210 were located.

Hughes had set up a fake company and bank account with the initials of Eagle Ridge Academy Foundation to disguise diverted checks.

Hughes was initially also charged with one count of felony theft.

After the Brighton school district and the state launched their own investigations, Hughes resigned from his post in August 2012 citing health problems.

The district agreed to pay back the grants that were misused, requiring the charter school to reimburse the district eventually.

Prosecutors in Adams County have also filed a motion to request $166,975.75 in restitution for the school district and will also request $87,024.25 in restitution for Traveler's Insurance.

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