Saturday, August 18, 2007

FUCK Florida school vouchers!

They had a mistrial for their first trial. That never made sense because they bought a Hummer and Lexus with the money.

This took a while for a pretty straightforward case. I have real concerns of mixing Florida's public school money with vouchers for private religious schools.

Sisters Found Guilty in Fraud Case

BARTOW | After a day and a half of deliberations, a jury found sisters Betty Mae Mitchell and Jeannette Nealy guilty of using their family's private religious school to steal money from Florida's voucher system.

Neither sister showed any reaction when the six-member jury returned its verdict Wednesday morning after a five-week trial.

Mitchell, 40, and Nealy, 39, were allowed to remain free on bail, pending the results of their pre-sentencing investigation, which will take about six weeks.

A previous trial in the case ended when a jury couldn't reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.

Prosecutors said the women swindled about $200,000 from state and federal programs through a network of corporations, including the private religious schools Faith Christian Academy in Bartow and Cathedral of Faith Christian Academy in Lakeland.

Previously their lawyer had tried to blame the problems on bad record keeping, but I guess that $35,000 Hummer got in the way of such an argument.

Lawyer blames Florida voucher money theft on bad that $35,000 hummer?

..."According to Assistant State Attorney Wayne Durden, the family billed the federal government $9,000 for lunches served in June and July 2003, when the school wasn't in session. They also collected $65,000 from another federal grant program for lunches, and withdrew $18,000 in cash and then another $25,000 in cash from that program. It is not known what they spent most of the cash on, but they appear to have used the $25,000 for bail money when they were arrested in the fraud case on June 29, 2004, Durden said.

In the summer of 2003, Betty Mitchell purchased a used 2003 Hummer H2 with $35,000 in cash that was taken from state scholarship funds, according to Durden.

The state has also alleged that Nealy bought a 1990 Lexus L400 in December 2003 using cash that was deposited into the account of Restoration NOW ministries, which is run by the family. The students were disabled and exceptional-education students, and the state paid the school a certain amount of money per child who attended.

The more recent articles fail to mention that two of the defendants had previously been charged in the death of Mitchell's former husband. There was a hung jury there as well.

BARTOW -- The private-school principal accused of stealing state voucher money via the now defunct Faith Christian Academy had once been tried for the murder of her husband in Arkansas.
Betty Mae Jives Mitchell, then Betty Clark, and Louise Henry were accused in 1987 of poisoning Mitchell's former husband, Thomas Joseph Clark, with arsenic in Crittenden County, Ark. The trial ended in a hung jury, and the state dropped its case against the pair.

I 'm pretty sure there are still types of vouchers which allow public tax money to go to private religious schools, with little oversight of the students' progress. Either way, this shit has GOT TO GO.

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