Home Philadelphia Press Releases 2013 Additional Charges Filed Against Charter School Founder and Co-Defendants

Additional Charges Filed Against Charter School Founder and Co-Defendants

U.S. Attorney’s Office January 22, 2013
  • Eastern District of Pennsylvania (215) 861-8200

PHILADELPHIA—A superseding indictment was filed today against Dorothy June Brown, 75, of Haverford, Pennsylvania, charging her with two additional counts of wire fraud and one additional count of obstruction of justice in connection with schemes to defraud three charter schools of more than $6.7 million. Charged with Brown in the 67-count superseding indictment are Joan Woods Chalker, 74, of Springfield, Pennsylvania; Michael A. Slade, Jr., 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Courteney L. Knight, 65, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; and Anthony Smoot, 50, of New Castle, Delaware.

All five defendants were previously named in a 62-count indictment filed on July 24, 2012. The original indictment alleges that Brown used her private management companies, Cynwyd Group and AcademicQuest, to defraud the Agora Cyber Charter School (“Agora”) and the Planet Abacus Charter School (“Planet Abacus”) soon after she founded the schools in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Brown is also charged with defrauding the Laboratory Charter School of Communication and Languages (“Laboratory”), a school she founded in 1997, by using Laboratory funds to pay the wages of an employee at one of Brown’s private management companies.

The new indictment includes an additional wire fraud scheme alleging that Brown and Chalker caused Laboratory to pay them approximately $214,095 in compensation that they were not entitled to receive. It further alleges that Brown and Chalker obstructed justice by fabricating Laboratory records and policies to make it falsely appear as if they were owed the payments from Laboratory due to unused vacation and sick time. The superseding indictment also includes new charges that Slade and Knight obstructed justice by fabricating board resolutions of Laboratory and another school, the Ad Prima Charter School.

Each of the wire fraud and obstruction of justice counts carry a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison. If convicted, the defendants face substantial terms of imprisonment and significant fines and other financial penalties.

This case was investigated by the United States Department of Education-Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Kyriakakis.

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