Judge Sentences Ex-Teacher To Prison In Kickback Scam

Saturday, February 24th 2007, 2:14 pm

By: News On 6

LAWTON, Okla. (AP) A Comanche County judge has sentenced a former junior high school teacher to five years in prison for her role in a kickback scam involving the Lawton Public School system.

Kathy Lynn Hicks, 35, pleaded guilty earlier in the week to one count each of obtaining property by false pretenses and conspiracy to commit a felony. She was sentenced on both charges to five years with all but one year suspended. Hicks will serve time in the Comanche County Detention Center.

Hicks is one of more than 20 people, including her husband, who have been charged in state or federal court in a scheme in which people were paid for work they didn't perform as security guards. The scheme cost the school system about $500,000.

In an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation affidavit, Hicks told an investigator that she approached Mark McFarland, Lawton Public Schools security coordinator, for security work in January 2004 to supplement her income for home mortgage refinancing. After a while, she persuaded McFarland to employ her husband, George, as a security guard.

"On her second paycheck for security work, McFarland told her she would have to pay him $1,000 and if she didn't continue with the scheme, he would have friends who work at DHS (Department of Human Services) take her children away," the affidavit states.

Faced with that threat, "Kathy Hicks continued the scheme and continued to kick back money to McFarland out of her paychecks for May and June 2004."

When OSBI Inspector Perry Unruh and FBI Special Agent Mike Shallenberger met with Kathy and George Hicks in 2005, Mrs. Hicks admitted she knew McFarland and another principal in the scam, and was aware of the scheme before she began security work for the school system, according to court documents.

Unruh said Kathy Hicks told him she became involved in the scheme so that her husband could continue attending college without having to work a part-time job.

She received a net payment of $4,412.42 for three months' pay as a security guard, court papers show.

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