Oklahoma's Own In Focus: Detailing Tulsa Public Schools' Wire Fraud Case Involving A Former Administrator

Prosecutors said Fletcher's actions went on until 2022 before TPS noticed red flags and started an investigation.

Friday, April 12th 2024, 6:21 pm

By: News On 6


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Tulsa Public Schools received an insurance check for $284,091 after a federal wire fraud case involving one of its former administrators.

Devin Fletcher pleaded guilty last fall to causing a loss of more than $600,000 for the district and its nonprofit foundation.

The details of Devin Fletcher's federal wire fraud case go back to 2018.

That's when prosecutors say Fletcher contracted a family member's business for consulting services, that never actually happened. Prosecutors said Fletcher's actions went on until 2022 before TPS noticed red flags and started an investigation.

He resigned weeks later, and the FBI took over the case in the fall of 2022. Last October, Fletcher changed his plea to guilty and is now waiting to be sentenced.

Related: Former Tulsa Public Schools Admin Changes Plea To Guilty In Wire Fraud Case

The first sign of trouble came in the summer of 2022 when an attorney for Tulsa Public Schools flagged evidence of fraud coming from inside the school district and then contacted Tulsa Police.

"It's a relatively small amount of money,” Dr. Deborah Gist, the superintendent at the time, said in June of 2022.

Related: Former Tulsa School Administrator Charged With Conspiracy To Commit Wire Fraud

District leaders initially announced to the public they discovered $20,000 was missing. A lot has changed since then, including the superintendent at TPS.

"Definitely walked into quite a bit. So lots happening around accreditation. A lot's happening on my leadership and just moving things forward,” Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson said.

Dr. Johnson said two of the changes now in place because of the Fletcher case include more in-depth weekly meetings with the financial team and a more focused checks and balance system with the district's foundation.

“All of those things do take quite a bit of time, but it is our work. And we're at a point right now where we have to work through these kinds of things because it is a situation that came upon us and we just have to make sure that we get it right and we have internal controls for the future so that it will not happen again,” Johnson said.

Related: Tulsa Public Schools' Superintendent Responds To Concerns About Accreditation

A closer look into the business dealings by Fletcher, the district's then Chief Learning Officer, uncovered far more fraud than first discovered.

First reported by the Tulsa World, News On 6 has also obtained insurance claim documents filed by TPS, which show how Fletcher was able to take advantage of the district for years.

Documents show he scammed upwards of $600,000 from the school district and Foundation, by inflating invoices and contracting out with a fake consulting firm.

Court documents point to bonus payments paid to employees through a vendor called Snickelbox, tipping the district off to trouble.

Snickelbox accounting records found in the district's insurance claim show those payments to employees totaled $17,000.

As of April 2024, TPS states that $12,000 has been paid back to the district.

"We have four current employees who have repaid or are repaying the dollars back,” Dr. Johnson said.

The district dove further into the Snickelbox account and found an instance in 2020 with a human resources vendor, called "Fountain."

Documents show Fletcher paid a $32,500 contract with Fountain using his personal credit card.

Snickelbox initially covered the cost. The credit card statement Fletcher submitted to TPS for reimbursement totaled $49,780. Fletcher pocketed that extra $17,000.

Related: Former Tulsa School Administrator Accused Of Embezzling Thousands From District, FBI Says

That discovery led to an external audit, which uncovered even more fraud committed under Fletcher's direction, going back even further.

Financial records show the district contracted Talented 10th for consulting services in 2018.

Invoices and emails from the insurance claim show that the firm was run by Shanequa Monee Kemp. Court documents reveal Kemp is Fletcher's half-sister.

TPS purchase order documents show from 2018 to 2021, Kemp was paid over $343,000 from TPS and an additional $105,000 from the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.

A lot of money, with no work to show for it. Documents show just 12 emails on record between Kemp and TPS.

As investigators worked the case, they found even more fraud. Documents show Fletcher contracted with at least two other companies doing business with TPS, with no evidence of completed work.

TPS and investigators have now spent years unraveling the tangled web woven by Fletcher. Dr. Johnson says it will take just as much work to rebuild trust inside and outside of the district.

"It's been, unfortunately, a lot of time being taken away from the things that we love to do, which is to do the day-to-day work to actually move the needle for our students,” Dr. Johnson said.

News On 6 spoke to Fletcher's attorney on Friday, April 11, who said Fletcher intends to pay everything back.

As far as the loss to the foundation, which relies on donor money, part of Fletcher's plea agreement is that he will pay back $225,000.

TPS received the insurance check on April 3.

"I'm grateful that our organization had that fidelity bond where we actually could file that claim and then recoup some dollars. It's big for our organization and it's big for our Tulsa community as a whole,” Johnson said.

The district said Travelers Insurance is keeping the case open until the district receives a forfeiture check. If the full amount does not come through, the district said it would be entitled to recover more insurance money.

Court dates have not been set for the forfeiture hearing, or Fletcher's sentencing. Fletcher is on supervised release.

Another part of this story involves the state auditor's office, which is still working to complete its own audit of what happened.

That was requested by the governor in 2022.

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