PONTIAC, Mich., (WXYZ) - Former Pontiac Schools Assistant Superintendent Jumanne Sledge was charged in an indictment today with taking $236,000 in district funds and money laundering.
The announcement came from United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena.
This is a new development to a story the 7 Action News Investigators brought you last month.
A federal grand jury is accusing Dr. Jumanne Sledge of taking $236,000 in school district funds for his own personal use. The head of the FBI in Detroit says this kind of corruption not only violates the trust of the community, but it robs children of opportunity.
"Could you please not film me," said Dr. Jumanne Sledge last month, when 7 Action News Investigator Bill Proctor started asking questions about money that's vanished from the Pontiac School District.
Now the FBI and federal prosecutors are the ones asking the tough questions. On Tuesday a federal grand jury charged the 40 year old of Bloomfield Hills with taking school district funds and money laundering.
Sledge worked as Pontiac's Assistant Superintendent from 2009 until 2011. 7 Action News reported in February that the feds had seized his 2002 Jaguar XK8 and cash from one of Sledge's bank accounts. Sledge is one of a dozen people targeted in a long running federal probe into financial misconduct in the Pontiac Schools.
According to the indictment, in 2010, Sledge is accused of committing fraud on the district by directing a district employee to write Sledge a vendor check for $236,000 payable to "Leadership Academy." Federal prosecutors say Sledge then deposited the check into an account that he controlled, and later opened another account to deposit most of the funds, which he allegedly used for personal expenses.
After Pontiac schools started looking into the missing money, Sledge left the district and took a new job as assistant superintendent for Inkster schools. If Sledge is convicted he could face up to ten years in prison for the fraud count, and up to 20 years for the money laundering charge. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $236,000.
Interim Pontiac Schools Superintendent Dr. Walter L. Burt released this statement:
"The Pontiac Board of Education insisted on the investigation of Dr. Jumanne Sledge and the administration ensured that all documents were turned over to the FBI. We appreciate the hard work of the FBI and federal prosecutors in this matter."
"Corruption in any form is a serious crime, but when a defendant steals from a school district, he robs children of funds intended for their education and their future," McQuade said Tuesday.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena said, "This type of public corruption not only violates the trust of the community but also robs children of opportunity. The FBI is committed to stopping those who steal from our youth."
The case was investigated by agents of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Michael Buckley.