Chairman of the Board for the Paideia Academy, Employee of St. Louis City Treasurer’s Office Convicted on Fraud Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 26, 2013|
ST. LOUIS, MO—After a seven-day jury trial, Fred W. Robinson was convicted on multiple fraud charges involving his submission of false time sheets in the treasurer’s office and his diversion of federal and state education funds from the Paideia Academy Charter School.
Robinson was the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Paideia Academy, a Missouri Charter school for kindergarten through eighth grade. He maintained an office in the school’s administration building and was involved in the day-to-day management and administration of the school. Paideia was tuition free and funded by federal and Missouri education funds intended for legitimate school operations.
According to testimony presented at trial, during 2009 and 2010, Robinson diverted approximately $242,333 of Paideia Academy funds for the purchase, construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of a building at 4028 West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis for the purpose of developing and operating a Little People’s Academy day care center to be operated by Robinson and an associate through Paige C. Investments LLC, in which Robinson had a ownership and financial interest. Robinson failed to disclose his ownership and financial interest in the proposed day care center to the Paideia Academy Board of Trustees. Robinson’s partner in the proposed day care center was a friend and associate of Robinson who worked as a bartender at a lounge frequented by Robinson and had no background, experience, or training in early childhood education or the operations of a day care center.
Additionally, during each year from 2006 through 2010, as an employee of the Treasurer’s Office for the City of St. Louis, Robinson submitted false weekly time sheets falsely certifying work hours and was paid approximately $35,360 each year in salary based upon those false time sheets.
Robinson, 71, St. Louis, was convicted of one count of wire fraud and seven felony counts of federal program theft after a seven-day trial before United States District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig. Sentencing has been set for July 19, 2013.
When asked about the likelihood of additional charges against other defendants, United States Attorney Richard G. Callahan stated, “The current status and progress of the investigation into the St. Louis City Treasurer’s Office is reflected by the charges that have been filed to date. No further charges are anticipated unless or until additional evidence is developed.”
Other defendants that have been charged as part of the investigation are Dannielle Benson and Frank Habeebullah, both of whom plead guilty late last year.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000; each count of federal program fraud carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Education, Inspector General’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.