The online charter sector not only has abysmal academic records, but it’s ripe pickings for scammers. The founders of Epic charter schools in Oklahoma are charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, racketeering and other crimes.

Oklahoma Watch reports:

Epic Charter Schools’ founders, who were arrested Thursday, shifted millions of school dollars to company credit cards, which were used to make political campaign donations, fund a lobbyist and pay personal expenses like vacations, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation alleges in court documents.

Following a yearslong investigation into alleged embezzlement of taxpayer funds, the co-founders of the state’s largest online school were arrested Thursday, along with the longtime chief financial officer, court records show.

David Chaney, 43, Ben Harris, 46, and Josh Brock, 40, were booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center Thursday morning. Each is charged with racketeering, embezzlement, obtaining money by false pretense, conspiracy to commit a felony, violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, submitting false documents to the state and unlawful proceeds.

Investigators said the men ran a complicated criminal enterprise using the online charter school and a for-profit company, Epic Youth Services.

The scheme has cost the state more than $22 million, according to the OSBI.

The charges involve co-mingling of funds, excessive and unnecessary management fees, use of Oklahoma tax dollars in California, political influence, concealment of profits, submission of false invoices and the illegal use of employees.

One of the school’s largest recruitment tools, the learning fund, was used to conceal illegal purchases, agents alleged. For the learning fund, Epic makes at least $1,000 available to each student annually in a virtual account. Parents can allocate those dollars for curriculum, laptops and extracurricular activities.

Parents don’t receive the money directly. Instead, they request a purchase from Epic and the school transfers the money to Epic Youth Services, which pays the vendor.

Chaney and Harris used a separate bank account to make learning fund purchases, and investigators found Chaney and Harris didn’t return unused learning fund dollars.

The account received nearly $145 million between 2015 and 2021. More than 50 times, Chaney, Harris and Brock transferred public funds from the learning fund account to the private bank account for Epic Youth Services, which was then used to pay a lobbying firm. Capital Gains, a lobbying firm run by Robert Stem, a longtime friend of Harris’, was paid more than $500,000.

Please open the link to read the rest of the story. Campaign contributions go a long way towards avoiding accountability.