Former Principal of New Mission School Charged with Misusing Nearly $40,000 in School Funds
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant allegedly used school funds to finance all-inclusive vacations to Barbados
BOSTON – The former Head of School for New Mission School in Hyde Park, an autonomous pilot school within the Boston Public Schools system, has been charged with one count of wire fraud for allegedly engaging in a scheme to defraud Boston Public Schools of approximately $38,806 by misusing school funds for her own personal use.
Naia Wilson, 60, of Mattapan, was charged by an Information with one count of wire fraud. Wilson, who has agreed to plead guilty and pay restitution, will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date.
According to the charging documents, Wilson was employed as Head of School for New Mission School from 2006 until about June of 2019. Pilot schools like New Mission are granted maximum autonomy over their budget and spending. New Mission School receives a lump sum per pupil budget from Boston Public Schools and school administrators decide how to spend that money based on the needs of the school.
Pilot school budgets are managed by an external fiscal agent that contracts with Boston Public Schools. The school funds managed by the external fiscal agent were held in a bank account. In order to spend school funds managed by the external fiscal agent, Wilson, in her role as headmaster of New Mission School, would be required to make a formal check request to the external fiscal agent for a check to be issued from the bank account holding the school’s funds.
Beginning in or about September of 2016 and continuing until at least May of 2019, Wilson allegedly requested checks from the external fiscal agent school account to be issued in the name of other individuals, fraudulently endorsed those checks to herself and then deposited them into her own bank account without the nominee ever knowing or authorizing her to do so.
Additionally, Wilson allegedly requested checks from the external fiscal agent that were used to pay for two all-inclusive personal vacations to Barbados for Wilson and her friends in 2016 and 2018. For both the 2016 and 2018 Barbados trips, Wilson requested that the external fiscal agent issue checks payable to other people who went on the trips and then converted that money to pay for the all-inclusive hotel and airfare. Wilson also fraudulently endorsed the checks used to pay for the 2018 trip.
“Protecting children is one of the very top priorities of this Office and threats come in all forms. Here, Ms. Wilson is accused of diverting school funds for her personal benefit. We will not allow this type of gross abuse of authority and responsibility fly under the radar. Individuals who take advantage of public trust to line their pockets will be investigated and held accountable,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy.
“Instead of working honestly on behalf of her students, Naia Wilson is accused of abusing her authority and using the school’s budget as her own personal slush fund to embezzle tens of thousands of dollars to fund two all-inclusive vacations to Barbados for herself and her friends,” said Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s charges should serve as a reminder to municipal workers everywhere that there are serious consequences for such shameful conduct, and it is the taxpayers they serve and answer to at the end of the day.”
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting U.S. Attorney Levy, FBI Acting SAC DiMenna and Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox made the announcement today. The Boston Public Schools were cooperative in this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugenia M. Carris and Charles Dell’Anno of the Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging document are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Updated August 1, 2023