The leader of a charter chain in Connecticut has a criminal record, but no one ever asked him about his background, he says.

The Hartford Courant reported:

“Criminal convictions and past imprisonment of Michael M. Sharpe, the CEO of a charter school organization that receives millions in taxpayer funds, are worrying Hartford and state officials – who said Wednesday they hadn’t known of his record and now want answers.”

It added:

“The questions arise as Sharpe’s organization – Family Urban Schools of Excellence, or FUSE – faces heavy criticism from the Hartford school system over its two-year management of Milner Elementary School. There are accusations of nepotism and concerns over Milner jobs having been offered to people with criminal backgrounds. The Courant reported on the complaints Tuesday.

“Tuesday night – after hearing about part of Sharpe’s criminal record from a person Wareing described as a “Good Samaritan” – the school board put off a vote on a proposal that would strip many of FUSE’s responsibilities at Milner, but still give the charter group $215,000 in state funds to provide a few services in the upcoming 2014-15 school year.

“The board expects to make a decision soon on whether to terminate the relationship, but first, Wareing said, the questions about Sharpe need to be addressed.

“Sharpe, 62, has been convicted twice on criminal charges. He pleaded guilty in Connecticut Superior Court to two counts of third-degree forgery in 1985 and agreed to pay two fines of $1,000 each. Then after moving to California, he pleaded guilty in 1989 to federal charges of embezzling more than $100,000 and conspiring to defraud the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, or BART, where he had served as the public transportation agency’s real estate manager.”

Sharpe said his criminal history was never a secret.

The charter chain has been a significant presence in Connecticut:

“The influence of Sharpe’s organization extends far beyond its assistance in the management of Milner School in Hartford. It also operates three Jumoke Academy charter schools in Hartford; manages Dunbar Elementary School in Bridgeport; and received state approval in April to operate the new Booker T. Washington Academy charter school that is scheduled to open soon in New Haven.

“In addition, FUSE has received approval to run at least one charter school in Louisiana.”