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2 Goodyear charter school employees indicted in $2.2M fraud case

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PHOENIX — Two former employees of a now-closed charter school in Goodyear were indicted for fraud Wednesday, months after the former director pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft.

A grand jury said the fraud done at the hands of Harold Cadiz and Joann Vega involved the use of fake students at the Bradley Academy of Excellence, also known as the Discovery Creemos Academy.

Cadiz had been the academy’s principal and Vega was the registrar.

Authorities said the two conspired with other school officials and employees to over-report the number of enrolled students to the Arizona Department of Education in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, 191 of the 652 reportedly enrolled students for the 2016-17 school year were fake. For the next school year, 453 of 528 were fake.

The move increased money from the Arizona Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, resulting in approximately $2.2 million of fraudulently obtained funding.

The school’s former director, Daniel Hughes, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft in November. He faces between three and 12.5 years in prison.

The school abruptly closed its doors last January, saying in a statement it had “exhausted all of its operational and financial resources in order to survive over the last couple of years and, tragically, we simply cannot keep up.”

In addition to the financial woes, the statement stated that several staff members were subject to “hateful online threats” and that one school leader’s family was targeted at their home.

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