Epic Constitution Faculties co-founders arrested on fees of economic crimes

Epic Charter Schools co-founders Ben Harris, left, and David Chaney.

Epic Constitution Faculties co-founders Ben Harris, left, and David Chaney.

The co-founders of Epic Constitution Faculties have been arrested on fees of economic crimes, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation introduced.

Ben Harris, David Chaney and the chief monetary officer for his or her firm, Josh Brock, had been taken into custody at 10 am Thursday, the OSBI mentioned. They had been booked into the Oklahoma County jail on a $250,000 bond.

Harris, Chaney and Brock had been arrested on fees of embezzlement of state funds, racketeering, acquiring cash by false pretense, conspiracy to commit a felony, violations of the state laptop crimes act, submitting false paperwork to the state and illegal proceeds.

“We deny any wrongdoing,” mentioned Mack Martin, an legal professional representing Brock. “We’ve not seen any fees.”

Authorized counsel for Harris and Chaney couldn’t be Thursday afternoon.

Associated protection: New report accuses Epic Constitution Faculties of miscounting attendance, unapproved bonuses

Epic Charter Schools Chief Financial Officer Josh Brock speaks during a school board meeting for the charter school in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Aug.  21, 2019.

Epic Constitution Faculties Chief Monetary Officer Josh Brock speaks throughout a faculty board assembly for the constitution faculty in Oklahoma Metropolis, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019.

The fees stem from a nine-year investigation into the defendants’ administration of Epic Constitution Faculties, a public digital constitution faculty system.

On high of creating Epic, Harris, 46, and Chaney, 43, based a non-public firm that operated the college system and earned 10% of its yearly training funding.

Epic severed all ties with the co-founders, Brock and their enterprise in Might 2021.

Investigators allege Harris, Chaney and Brock, 40, prices $22 million by engineering a “sophisticated felony enterprise” involving extreme and pointless administration charges, spending Oklahoma tax {dollars} on a California faculty, concealment of income, submission of false invoices and unlawful use of workers.

“This has been a really complicated and arduous investigation with many roadblocks inflicting delays in attending to the reality,” OSBI director Ricky Adams mentioned in an announcement. “Harris, Chaney and Brock got here up with a ‘get wealthy fast scheme’ that lined their pockets with tax {dollars} that had been to be spent for the good thing about Oklahoma college students.”

Oklahoma County District Lawyer David Prater is accountable for submitting the costs in district courtroom.

A number of Epic faculty leaders and state training officers had been attending an Oklahoma State Board of Schooling assembly on the time of the arrests.

Epic officers had been within the midst of responding to a scathing investigative report from the Oklahoma State Division of Schooling, which alleged Tuesday the college system had deep deficiencies in its attendance insurance policies and governance.

The four-hour state board assembly rapidly ended Thursday afternoon because the phrase of the OSBI announcement unfold all through the room.

Epic Superintendent Bart Banfield mentioned the timing of the arrests had been “undoubtedly a shock.”

“I do not know how you can describe it,” Banfield mentioned. “I want I may put it into phrases what I am feeling immediately, however there’s blended feelings tied to it as a result of we labored with them. They based our college. They operated the college for the higher a part of a decade. So, they’ ll have their day in courtroom. That will likely be for a decide and jury to determine.”

It is a creating story.

Reporter Nuria Martinez-Keel covers Okay-12 and better training all through the state of Oklahoma. Have a narrative concept for Nuria? She may be reached at nmartinez-keel@oklahoman.com or on Twitter at @NuriaMKeel. Assist Nuria’s work by her and that of different Oklahoman journalists by buying a digital subscription immediately at subscribe.oklahoman.com.

This text initially appeared on Oklahoman: Epic Constitution Faculties co-founders arrested for alleged monetary crimes

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