Educational agency leader charged in financial conspiracy
HOUSTON – A federal grand jury has returned an 18-count indictment against the founding superintendent of Zoe Learning Academy on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, theft of government funds, money laundering and false bankruptcy declarations, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick.
Authorities took Richard S. Rose into custody this morning. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray at 2:00 p.m. today. The Houston grand jury returned the indictment under seal Dec. 11, which was unsealed per his arrest.
The charges allege Rose was the founder of Zoe Learning Academy and served in various capacities to include superintendent, CEO and chief financial officer during its operations from 2001 until it closed in September 2019.
Rose allegedly embezzled funds intended for the charter school’s operation and used them for his personal expenses such as legal fees, a lawsuit settlement and for the purchase of a timeshare. The indictment also alleges that after Zoe ceased operations, Rose, as Zoe’s agent, filed for bankruptcy and made various false statements under penalty of perjury in documents regarding payments to insiders, creditors and other matters.
If convicted of mail fraud, Rose faces up to 20 years imprisonment. The money laundering and theft of government funds allegations carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years, while he faces additional five-year-terms for the conspiracy and false bankruptcy declarations, upon conviction. All charges could also result in a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
IRS-Criminal Investigation, Secret Service, Department of Education-Office of Inspector General and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Belinda Beek is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.