Epic Charter School Founders Appear In Court For Embezzlement, Racketeering

Preliminary hearings started on Monday for Ben Harris and David Chaney, two of the founders of Epic Charter Schools. The pair are charged with racketeering, embezzlement, and other charges. Former CFO Josh Brock faces the same charges.

Monday, March 25th 2024, 11:49 am

By: News On 6


Two of three suspects accused of misusing millions of dollars in taxpayer money meant for students at Epic Charter School are in court.

Preliminary hearings for Ben Harris and David Chaney, two of Epic's founders, started on Monday. The pair are charged with racketeering, embezzlement, and other charges. Former CFO Josh Brock faces the same charges.

A 2019 audit indicated that the three suspects had been pocketing millions of taxpayer dollars which were meant to go to Oklahoma students.

Story Background: Attorney General Gentner Drummond Reopens Investigation Into Epic Charter Schools

A decades-long investigation into money mismanagement at Epic Charter Schools made its way back to the Oklahoma Attorney General in 2023. 

Gentner Drummond was sworn in as the new attorney general on January 9 and took quick action to take over the case that was previously in the hands of the former Oklahoma County district attorney.

“It is a priority of this office," Attorney General Gentner Drummond said. “The fact that it's the first case pulled up from Oklahoma County illustrates the importance of the case."

Drummond announced he would be taking on the prosecution of the Epic Charter School founders and CFO and said this case deals with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and is in the interest of the entire state, not just Oklahoma County.

Related Story: Founders Of Epic Charter Schools Charged With Racketeering, Embezzlement

“In the case of Epic, it affects all taxpayers in the state of Oklahoma- it impacts all 77 counties and our educational system," Drummond said.

Drummond sent a letter to newly appointed Oklahoma County District Attorney Vicki Behenna, notifying her he was taking over the case. He said he and Behenna had spoken about the move and were in agreement that it belonged at the highest level of the state.

“It belongs at the State Attorney General's Office," Drummond said.

A 2019 audit revealed what State Auditor Cindy Byrd called “one of the worst” audits she had seen.  Investigators said Epic founders and CFO were pocketing millions of taxpayer dollars; dollars meant for Oklahoma students.

Related Story: State Auditor Reflects On Epic Charter Schools Investigation

“State Auditor Cindy Byrd did her audit and found that there were issues, and then it was turned over to the state’s attorney general, and for whatever reason, perhaps a conflict of interest, the attorney general referred that down to the Oklahoma County district attorney," Drummond said.

Related Story: State Auditor ‘Concerned’ Following Year-Long Investigation Into Epic Charter Schools

Then-Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater charged Epic founder Ben HarrisDavid Chaney, and former CFO Josh Brock with racketeering, embezzlement, obtaining money by false pretense and other allegations in June 2022.

“There were dollars misappropriated, malfeasance, embezzlement," Drummond said.

Drummond said any wrongdoing found by his office in this case will be fully prosecuted by the state.

Epic Charter Schools sent News 9 the following statement last year after the AG's decision to take the case: 

"Epic Charter School terminated the contract with EYS in May of 2021. While we look forward to the resolution of this case, it has no bearing on our current operations or leadership. Our focus has been and continues to be serving the students and families who choose Epic."


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