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Investigation finds misuse of grant money in Arizona school system

Two former school officials -- one of them from the Arizona Department of Education -- have been indicted on five felony counts related to misuse of public monies.

ARIZONA, USA — A former career and technical education program director and a former superintendent have been indicted on five felony counts, according to the Arizona Auditor General.

A financial investigation was launched on recipients of Carl D. Perkins federal grant money and found that the former superintendent of Valley Academy for Career and Technical Education, located in Cottonwood, had allegedly colluded with a state official to misuse the grant funds. 

Lois Lamer, the school's former superintendent, is accused of funneling grant money through her personal business and wiring it to Dennis Fiscus, the Arizona Department of Education's former CTE programs of study director. 

According to auditors, Fiscus was responsible for authorizing Perkins grants to VACTE and failed to disclose his close relationship with the school. 

"He improperly involved himself in VACTE’s day-to-day operations and management, which included participating in VACTE’s spending of Perkins monies," the auditor's report stated. 

Perkins grant money, also known as Perkins IV, is a principal source of federal funding to states and discretionary grantees for the improvement of career and technical education programs across the nation, according to Perkins Collaborative Resource Network.

Lamer allegedly created three false documents when she complied with Fiscus’ alleged direction to deposit $7,500 of federal Perkins grant money in her personal business checking account in December 2013 through June 2014, according to officials. 

The money was merged with Lamer's business money and spent for Fiscus' gain, according to a press release. Auditors believe more than $14,000 was set aside for Fiscus through this arrangement. 

It was further revealed that Fiscus did not comply with federal guidelines or reporting requirements while at the ADE, resulting in the state agency having to reimburse the federal government about $426,000 in grant money. 

On Sept. 14, reports were submitted to the Arizona Attorney General's Office and resulted in Fiscus and Lamer both being indicted on five felony counts related to misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes and artifices, and fraudulent schemes and practices.

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