Former Broken Arrow Superintendent of Schools Jim Sisney has been indicted by a multi-county grand jury on charges of felony bribery and conspiracy.
Authorities unsealed documents on Thursday in Tulsa County District Court, which allege Sisney accepted two all-session tickets to the 2007 NCAA Men's Final Four in Atlanta, "with the promise of other valuable gratuities," paid by Windstream Communications, which is also named in the indictment.
Windstream is a telecommunications company and Internet supplier for the Broken Arrow School District.
"Today's indictments are the result of many months of investigation into practices by a former employee and a vendor of Broken Arrow Public Schools," Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a news release. "I'm very grateful for the sacrifice made by multi-county grand jurors as well as the effort of state prosecutors and investigators in the Attorney General's Office and the State Auditor's Office in conducting a thorough investigation. It is important that we remain vigilant in holding accountable those entrusted as public servants."
Airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets, souvenirs, beverages, food and free local entertainment were given by Windstream to Sisney, "with the intention of favorably influencing [Sisney's] judgment in reference to recommending or approving the school district continuing to do business with Windstream Corporation in the future," the indictment alleges in the bribery count.
The conspiracy count accuses Sisney and Windstream employees of acting fraudulently to impair, obstruct or defeat the lawful function of the BA Board of Education and the school district.
The Vice President and general counsel for Windstream, John Fletcher, said in a statement Thursday, "We have always taken great pride in serving our customers with integrity. We have cooperated fully in the investigation and will vigorously contest the charges."
Sisney was suspended by the school board in October 2008.
A 2008 letter from the school district said it suspended Sisney because he was "demeaning," "humiliating" and "unprofessional" toward staff and board members.
The letter also stated he approved sick leave for an employee who wasn't sick, and he made false public allegations against a company that does business with the district.
At the time, Sisney said he felt his suspension was a "witch hunt" and he was suspended because he was the whistle-blower on what he said was inappropriate behavior by Air Assurance, a company he claims didn't go through the competitive bidding process.
Sisney was fired by the Broken Arrow School Board in late October 2008.
In April 2009, he was hired as the Superintendent of Sperry Schools, a move that was controversial with parents in that district. He retired from that position in June 2011.
Current BA Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said he is trying to restore faith in the system.
"Since I became superintendent, one of our areas of focus has been implementing sound business practices," he said a news conference Thursday. " Specifically, we developed a new purchasing and procurement policy that is reviewed annually, and we have also implemented a committee to review any and all contracts."
Citing the ongoing litigation, Mendenhall did not answer any questions from the press.