Former Dover Charter School Principal Sentenced to Prison
WILMINGTON, Del. – David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Noel Rodriguez, age 56, formerly of Dover, Del., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Andrews to 13 months of imprisonment and ordered to pay $145,480 in restitution. The sentencing came after Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of federal program theft on November 20, 2017.
According to court records and statements made in open court, between 2011 and 2014, while serving as Principal of the Academy of Dover, a charter school in Dover, Del., Rodriguez embezzled $145,480 from the school. He did so by charging personal expenses to four unauthorized credit cards that he opened in the name of the school, abusing the voucher program, and using the charter-school issued procurement credit card for his own personal purchases. Rodriguez used the embezzled funds to purchase camping equipment, electronics, personal travel, and home improvement items, among other things.
U.S. Attorney Weiss said, “Mr. Rodriguez betrayed the public trust by using his position as Principal of the Academy of Dover to further his own interests. The sentence imposed today holds Mr. Rodriguez accountable for stealing $145,000 meant for the children and school he was hired to serve, and it should serve as a warning to others contemplating misappropriating public funds.”
"Mr. Rodriguez defrauded America's taxpayers and the children he promised to serve in a deliberate and methodical way," said Geoffrey Wood, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Eastern Regional Office. "His sentence should serve as a warning to anyone who intentionally steals or misappropriates Federal education funds for their own selfish purpose: you will be caught and held accountable for your unlawful actions."
"Principals are in positions of public trust and have an obligation to act in the best interest of their schools and the children for which they represent," said Special Agent Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Division. “Mr. Rodriguez violated this trust. The FBI will vigorously investigate any official who attempts to use their position to enrich themselves.”
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Education – Office of the Inspector General, and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts.