Three DPS principals formally charged in kickback scheme

Three Detroit Public School principals in federal court today formally charged in a kickback scheme that allegedly padded their pockets while draining district dollars.

They stood before a judge in federal court - just a few of 12 principals in the district accused of taking part in a kickback scheme, stealing millions.

Nina Hicks was the former principal at Davis Aerospace Technical High School, accused of taking a little more than $27,000.

Stan Johnson had been a principal at Hutchinson Elementary; he's accused of stealing more than $84,000.

"That charges you with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery," said the judge.

Federal investigators announced the charges last week also naming the current principal at Marcus Garvey Academy. James Hearn and the other principals accused could face up to five years behind bars.

Both Johnson and Hearn are no longer serving as principals for DPS pending the investigation.

"You've had the opportunity to go over this information with your attorney is that right?" the judge said.

"Yes I have," Hearn said.

All three of the principals in court on Wednesday entered a plea of not guilty and released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

However, Hearn's attorney says there could some negotiations for a plea deal.

"Nothing real specific yet, but we're trying to cooperate as much as possible," said Hearn's attorney.

FOX 2 spoke with a parent at the academy who says she received a letter asking for supplies and donations, and wonders if that was part of the con all along.

"I really have no idea, that's the first I've heard of it," the attorney said. "I really don't know. What I do know is there were some allegations about improper use of gift cards is the one thing I do know alleged against him. But for supplies and things like that, I really don't know."

FOX 2 called the attorney for Johnson but did not hear back. FOX 2 also contacted the attorney for Hicks, but he declined to comment.

We've also been told that two more principals could be arraigned as early as tomorrow.