Michigan Attorney General confiscateS pensions of DPS principals convicted in kickback scheme

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On Friday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette started to confiscated the pensions of 12 former Detroit Public School officials who were convicted of accepting federal program bribery in a $2.7 million kickback scheme.

Schuette announced the move in a statement saying that the state will 'seek the forfeiture of all State of Michigan or Detroit Public Schools contributions from the time the bribery began until the time of their termination or retirement.'

Schuette stressed that the principals violated the first responsibility of their jobs: to care of the children.

"An educator's first responsibility is to the children of the school, and the individuals that accepted bribes violated that trust and responsibility," said Schuette. "Actions have consequences, and they should not reap rewards for criminal behavior."

All 12 defendants - Clara Flowers, Beverly Campbell, Stanley Johnson, Nina Graves-Hicks, Gerlma Johnson, James Hearn, Tanya Bowman, Ronald Alexander, Tia'Von Moore-Patton, Ronnie Tims, Clara Smith and Willye Pearsall - are either members or retired members of the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS). Their pensions received contributions from the State of Michigan or Detroit Public Schools.  

The ringleader of the scheme, Norman Shy, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to five years in prison. He also agreed to pay back the $2.7 million that was stolen from DPS.

The scheme spanned a number of years and involved bogus invoices that were submitted for chairs, paper and other supplies, some of which were never delivered. In return, gift cards, cash and checks were given to school employees

According to Schuette's office, the state of Michigan allows for the forfeiture of public employee retirement benefits paid by the State into the retirement fund if a member or retiree is convicted of or enters a guilty plea to a felony that is related to their service as a public employee.

The confiscated funds cannot be used to pay restitution.