Dayton charter school officials get prison in bribery scheme

UPDATE @ 6:40 p.m. (Oct. 2):

Four people were sentenced to prison in a bribery case linked to a Dayton-area charter school that operated from 2008 to 2010.

Prosecutors say officials with the former Arise Academy took bribes including cash from North Carolina-based Global Educational Consultants in exchange for awarding the firm an unbid contract.

The government said Friday the school’s superintendent, 44-year-old Shane Floyd of Strongsville, was sentenced to 84 months in prison, the Associated Press reported.

Arise board chairman, 45-year-old Christopher Martin of Springfield, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, while Kristal Screven of Dayton, also of Arise, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, the AP reported.

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The government says 48-year-old Carl Robinson, of Durham, North Carolina, who operated Global Educational Consultants, was sentenced to 78 months in prison, according to the AP report.

EARLIER REPORT, June 2, 2015:

A federal jury in U.S. District Court on Tuesday convicted three men of bribery and conspiracy charges connected to their work for Arise! Academy, a Dayton area charter school that operated from 2004 to 2010.

Federal prosecutors said two Arise board members — Christopher D. Martin, 44, of Springfield and Kristal N. Screven of Dayton — and school superintendent Shane K. Floyd, 42, of Strongsville conspired to steer lucrative, unbid contracts and make overpayments to Global Educational Consultants, which was co-owned by Carl L. Robinson, 47, of Durham, N.C.

Martin, Floyd and Robinson were convicted Tuesday in a jury trial of the bribery and conspiracy charges and Martin and Floyd were also convicted of lying to FBI investigators. Martin and Floyd face up to 20 years in prison while Robinson could be sentenced to up to 15 years.

Screven, 39, pleaded guilty on May 8 to one criminal count of conspiracy to commit bribery and faces up to five years in prison. Screven had originally been charged with conspiracy, bribery and witness intimidation for allegedly telling a witness to lie to the grand jury.

Arise! paid Global $420,919 over 15 months, starting in September 2008 at a time when the charter school had trouble paying its bills and staff, according to federal investigators.

In exchange for the consulting contract, Robinson paid Floyd and Martin thousands of dollars in cash and other benefits, like an all-expense -paid Las Vegas trip taken by Martin.

The defendants may be required to forfeit the $420,919 paid to Global Educational Consultants.

Floyd and Robinson knew one another well and had previously formed another educational consulting firm together — a fact they concealed from other Arise board members, prosecutors alleged.

Martin, who served as Arise board chairman, worked as an aide to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

The case, which was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s public corruption squad based in Columbus and the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, took a year to prosecute. All four were indicted in June 2014.

The jury heard the case before U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley over 11 days and then deliberated for two-and-a-half days.

Arise, which was housed at the former St. Elizabeth Hospital campus, was started in 2004 to serve hundreds of drop-out and at-risk high school students but the school was plagued with financial problems. A state audit of the 2006-07 academic year raised concerns over poor accounting and record keeping and a failure to file state reports on time.

Arise also was known as the Carter G. Woodson Institute. Its treasurers included Carl Shye and Edward Dudley, who together racked up $1.6 million in findings for recovery for allegedly mishandling funds at nearly 30 schools across the state. Shye went to federal prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to embezzling $472,579 at several schools.

Arise closed in June 2010. Its financial troubles and poor academic performance led Educational Resource Consultants of Ohio to not renew sponsorship.

In 2009, when Arise paychecks were bouncing, vendors went unpaid and staff took a 20 percent pay cut, Floyd told the Dayton Daily News: “These pains, these wounds are great now; I understand that and I sympathize with the staff here to take a cut like that. But I do commend their determination and the willingness to still go about the business of educating our young people.”

“At the end of the day, it’s about the kids,” he said.

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