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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Dallas Charter School CEO Convicted in Kickback Scheme Sentenced to 7+ Years

A Dallas charter school CEO was sentenced Thursday to more than seven years in federal prison for her role in a corruption scandal following an investigation by the FBI Dallas Field Office, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

In October, a federal jury deliberated for just four hours before finding Nova Academy CEO Donna H. Woods, 65, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and three individual counts of wire fraud. 

U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater sentenced her Thursday morning to 87 months in federal prison and ordered her to pay $337,951.06 in restitution to the Federal Communications Commission.

Woods’s co-conspirator, Donatus Anyanwu, 61, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in July. Judge Fitzwater sentenced him to 30 months in prison and declared him jointly and severally liable for the restitution owed to the FCC Thursday.

According to evidence presented at trial, Ms. Woods approved the granting of a federal telecommunications E-rate contract, worth approximately $337,951, to ADI Engineering, a company owned by Dr. Anyanwu.  In return for the E-rate contract, Anyanwu paid Woods $50,000 in kickbacks.

When the charter school initially selected another contractor for E-rate, prosecutors explained, Ms. Woods filed a falsified E-rate application re-directing the contract to ADI – despite the company’s shoddy record.  To ensure that ADI’s bid was accepted by E-rate program managers, Ms. Woods also allowed Dr. Anyanwu to copy portions of the original winning bid and pass off the work as his own.

Then, when, ADI botched the E-rate job, Ms. Woods falsely certified that it had completed the work when it had not.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office and Federal Communications Commission Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. U.S. Attorneys Russ Fusco and Nick Bunch prosecuted the case. Senior U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater presided over the trial.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Contact: 
Erin Dooley, Public Affairs Officer 214-659-8707 erin.dooley@usdoj.gov
Updated January 30, 2020