January 16, 2015

Forfeited Funds Returned to Beaumont Independent School District

BEAUMONT, TX—Nearly $900,000 of forfeited funds have been paid towards financial losses suffered by the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD), announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Devin Wayne McCraney, former Director of Finance for BISD, and Sharika Baksh Allison, former Comptroller for BISD, were sentenced on Sep. 18, 2014 for fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud upon programs receiving federal funds. McCraney and Allison surrendered to the Bureau of Prisons on Oct. 21, 2014.

As part of their sentences, McCraney and Allison were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,041,705.27 to BISD. On Jan. 15, 2015, the U.S. District Clerk forwarded $896,915.33 in forfeiture funds to BISD as part of that restitution.

This case was prosecuted as part of the Joint Task Force established in March 2014 between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute major crimes involving abuse of the public trust in Jefferson County, Texas.

After McCraney and Allison were indicted in January 2014, more than $900,000 in assets, including cash and luxury vehicles, were seized pursuant to the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture procedures. The majority of those assets were forfeited to the federal government when McCraney was sentenced. Assets were also forfeited from Allison in the criminal case. Aside from those forfeited assets, McCraney and Allison had spent nearly all of the remaining money that they embezzled from BISD.

Because McCraney and Allison did not have enough other assets to pay anything towards the $4 million restitution judgment, the U.S. Attorney requested for the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) to approve application of the forfeited assets to the restitution debt so that the forfeited funds could be paid to BISD. AFMLS expedited the U.S. Attorney’s request and approved it in a matter of days.

“Returning forfeited assets to the victims of financial crime is an important priority of the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture program,” said U.S. Attorney Bales. “We endeavor to seek restitution to crime victims whenever possible in our cases. Unfortunately, criminals often spend all of the money that they steal, which ultimately leaves very little else for the victims. Asset forfeiture is a key law enforcement tool because it helps to restrain a criminal’s assets and preserve them for crime victims.” “Given how these defendants spent their ill-gotten gains and had very little of value to show for it, we are fortunate that there was anything to forfeit at all,” said U.S. Attorney Bales. “Thanks to the efforts of the task force, we were able to find what assets of value they did have, seize them, forfeit them, and now have them paid to BISD.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher T. Tortorice and Joseph R. Batte.