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Phoenix's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Phoenix, Arizona | 12NEWS.com

Former Valley charter school principal sentenced to prison, ordered to pay over $2 million

The principal was found guilty of enrolling hundreds of fake students to obtain funding from multiple state agencies.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The former principal of the Bradley Academy of Excellence, a now-closed Valley charter school, was sentenced to "3.75 years in prison and ordered to pay $2,538,722 in restitution," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said.

The former principal, Harold Cadiz, was found guilty of enrolling fake students into the charter school in order to obtain funding from the Arizona Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Cadiz, along with school CEO Daniel Hughes and Vice-Principal Joann Vega, reported hundreds of fake student profiles in order to secure additional funding for the school.

The school reportedly closed abruptly in December 2017, the Arizona Attorney General said. Not long after, the Attorney General's officer seized hundreds of documents created by the administration that supported the enrollment of fake students and included forged birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, immunization records, and performance exams.

It was discovered that the school included 191 fake student profiles in its enrollment of 652 for the 2016/2017 school year. The school also reported 453 fake students in its reported enrollment of 528 for the 2017/2018 school year. 

The false reports allegedly 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, according to a press release from the attorney general's office.

"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."

The full sentencing notice can be found here.