PHOENIX – Harold Cadiz, a former charter school principal, was sentenced to 3.75 years in prison for his role in enrolling fake students to obtain funding from the Arizona Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cadiz was also ordered to pay $2,538,722 in restitution.
According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Cadiz worked at the now-closed Bradley Academy of Excellence (formerly Discovery Creemos Academy and Bradley Creemos Academy), a K-8 charter school located in Goodyear, Arizona. Cadiz, along with the school’s CEO Daniel Hughes and Vice Principal Joann Vega, reported hundreds of fake student profiles to the Arizona Department of Education to fraudulently secure additional funding for the financially-failing school.
Fake students, that the group referred to as “caspers” were reported to Arizona Department of Education and enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school lunch program during the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic years. After the school abruptly closed its door in December of 2017, it was discovered that for the 2016/2017 school year, Bradley Academy included 191 fake students in its reported enrollment of 652. For the 2017/2018 school year, which was cut short by the school’s closure in December of 2017, Bradley Academy included 453 fake students in its reported enrollment of 528. This resulted in overpayments of $2,216,366.91 by the Arizona Department of Education, $91,356.75 by the U.S. Department of Education, and $230,998.42 the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Instead of finding innovative ways to better education for students, Cadiz and others devised a scheme to bilk taxpayers out of more than $2 million,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “It’s despicable because real Arizona students could have used these critical funds. It’s now up to the court to teach an important lesson on what happens when you break the law.”
As part of the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office seized hundreds of fraudulent documents created by Cadiz at the direction of Hughes to support the enrollment of fake students. Documents included forged birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, immunization records, and performance exams.