September 2, 2014

Highland Park School Board Member Pleads Guilty to Conversion of School Funds and Filing False Income Tax Return

Robert Davis, 34, of Highland Park, Michigan, a member and former President of the Highland Park School Board, pleaded guilty today to unlawful conversion of funds belonging to the Highland Park School District and to filing a false federal income tax return, United States Attorney Barbara McQuade announced.

The guilty plea was entered before Senior United States District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Jarod Koopman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.

Information provided to the court at the guilty plea proceeding showed that from 2007 through 2010 Davis used his authority as a member of the school board to cause the school district to issue checks to companies controlled by associates of Davis—Company Z and Company D. Those companies then, at Davis’s direction, issued checks totaling almost $200,000 to another entity, controlled by Davis himself: Citizens United to Save Highland Park Schools. Davis then used those funds for his own personal purposes. Thus, through this scheme, he unlawfully converted the funds. In addition, Davis knowingly and intentionally failed to report the income he received on his federal income tax returns.

United States Attorney McQuade stated, “Any betrayal of the public trust is deplorable, but stealing from schools is the most reprehensible kind of corruption because it robs children of their education.”

“As a public official, Mr. Davis used Highland Park school funds for his personal enrichment. He not only violated the law, he betrayed the public trust. This case sends a clear message that the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to investigate those who destroy that confidence and hold them accountable for their actions,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Davis is subject to up to 24 months’ imprisonment, as well as up to a $500,000 fine and full restitution as determined by the court. Sentencing is scheduled for December 9, 2014, at 2:00 p.m.

The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS CI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sheldon N. Light and Dawn N. Ison, and former AUSA Pamela Thompson.