Hearing set in BISD's Lambert fraud, conspiracy case
A hearing to determine how much money the federal government says former Beaumont ISD assistant superintendent Patricia Lambert stole from the school district has been set for Feb. 22.
The government asserts Lambert stole about half a million dollars, but she claims the amount was a lot less, according to John M. Bales, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.
Lambert, 61, pleaded guilty in December to one count of fraud on programs receiving federal funds and one count of conspiracy to submit false statements concerning standardized test scores. She had been charged with four counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy.
In exchange for her guilty plea on one fraud count, the government agreed to drop the three other fraud charges and agreed to a prison sentence of up to three years and four months, Bales said.
The amount Lambert must pay - including restitution, forfeiture of assets and possible fines - will be based on the total the court determines prior to her sentencing.
She faced a maximum of 15 years in federal prison for the two charges to which she pleaded guilty.
The amount federal prosecutors allege Lambert stole from the district was calculated based on what she gained by diverting business to her son; stealing from unaudited booster club funds; overbilling students dual-enrolled in higher-education programs and pocketing the differencel and other unexplained cash deposits, according to Bales.
The indictment accused Lambert, who retired in April 2014, of embezzling more than $750,000. Bales has said that the goverment determined only half of the $480,000 channeled to her son's printing business could be classified as fraud, which lowered the amount to about half a million.When she was principal of Central High School and later as assistant superintendent, Lambert gave most of the campus' printing business, including banners, pamphlets, football programs and instructional materials, to her son, according to a court document she signed called a factual basis and stipulation.
Bales said the government agreed not to charge Lambert's son as part of her plea deal.
Besides prison time, Lambert faces fines of up to $250,000 for each of the two counts and a total of three years of supervised release at sentencing.
Lambert's plea to the fraud charge covered count one of the indictment, for the year 2010. Counts two through four of the indictment included the same charges for each of the next three years.
Bales said the government's estimate of the amount of Lambert's fraud covers all four years, but that restitution will be based only on 2010, the period covered in the first count of the indictment.
By pleading guilty to one count of fraud instead of all four, Lambert reduced the prison time she faced at sentencing. Each fraud count carried a maximum of 10 years.
Lambert also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements about her involvement in a scheme to cheat on standardized tests. Conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of five years.