(The Center Square) - Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said his office would take the lead in prosecuting the founders of a charter school accused of pilfering state tax dollars.
Ben Harris, David Chaney and Josh Brock, founders of Epic Charter Schools, were arrested by agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation in June. They were charged with embezzlement of state funds, racketeering, obtaining money by false pretense, conspiracy to commit a felony, violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, submitting false documents to the state and unlawful proceeds.
The investigation revealed “a complicated criminal enterprise emerged that involved among other things: co-mingling of funds, excessive and unnecessary management fees, the use of Oklahoma tax dollars in California, political influence, concealment of profits, submission of false invoices, and the illegal use of employees,” OSBI said in its news release.
Former Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater was overseeing the case’s prosecution. Prater, a Republican, stepped down from his post last year. Former federal prosecutor Vicki Behenna, a Democrat, won the position in November.
“These allegations involve tens of millions of Oklahoma tax dollars intended for public education, and the State has a strong interest in ensuring proper accountability,” Drummond said in a letter to Behenna. “Given the statewide impact of this case on public education funding, I believe it is wholly appropriate that fall under the purview of the Office of Attorney General.”
Drummond, sworn into office on Monday, said former attorney general John O’Connor left too many state corruption cases up to county district attorneys. He defeated O’Conner in the 2022 Republican primary.
“Over the past several years, Oklahomans have been inundated with news stories of scandal and corruption,” Drummond said in a news release. “It’s little wonder that so many citizens lose faith in their governmental institutions. Oklahoma taxpayers deserve true accountability for wrongdoing. My office will be working to investigate recent allegations and take appropriate action in the best interest of justice.”