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Former TPS employee pleads not guilty to wire fraud in $600k embezzlement case

Devin Fletcher
Posted at 1:22 PM, Sep 19, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — A former Tulsa Public Schools employee is charged in federal court in connection to around $600,000 in missing funds.

An investigation into TPS' former head of the Talent Management Department Devin Fletcher began in the summer of 2022 when an internal audit revealed around $17,000 in mismanaged funds. Fletcher resigned from his role around the same time.

In April, an independent audit found identified around $364,000 in questionable contracts.

As the investigation continued, the number increased. Court documents in June revealed the number had grown to around $500,000.

The case garnered more attention when State Superintendent Ryan Walters claimed the embezzled funds justified the call for former TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist's removal.

In the first charges filed against Fletcher on Sept. 18, the court argues, "Fletcher created, altered, and fabricated fraudulent invoices, purchase orders, and supporting documents that caused a loss of at least $603,992.32 to TPS and [the Foundation for Tulsa Schools]."

Court documents allege from at least August 2018 to at least March 2022, Fletcher and at least one other conspirator knowingly conspired to commit wire fraud.

While not named in Fletcher's most recent charges, his half-sister and mother were named as being allegedly involved in June court documents.

The court alleges Fletcher and his conspirators created documentation stating one of the conspirators would provide consulting services for TPS and the Foundation, but there is no evidence those services were performed.

If Fletcher is convicted, he will be asked to forfeit any property constituting, derived from, or traceable to the proceeds obtained through the conspiracy — which is $603,992.

Fletcher has not been arrested at the time of this posting.

On Sept. 21, Fletcher went to court and pleaded not guilty to his charges.

TPS interim Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson released this statement about the charges:

"At Tulsa Public Schools, our mission is to inspire and prepare every student to love learning, achieve goals, and positively contribute to our world. As I formally begin to serve as interim Superintendent, my role is not only ensuring students achieve their full potential but also honoring your trust in district administration to always do what is right. Yesterday, I received new information regarding the ongoing investigation into alleged financial crimes by a former TPS employee, and my first course of action is to share this update with the public.

Since June of 2022, the district has cooperated fully with law enforcement investigations into serious financial mishandling by a former employee and others. We are aware of federal criminal charges filed on September 18 against the former TPS employee. The final comprehensive financial impact from this criminal activity is still being determined.

As a parent, former school principal and native Tulsan who cares deeply about our education system, I know firsthand how unsettling this news can be. My recent appointment to the highest position in the district has provided me with deeper knowledge and understanding of the full breadth of this incident, and while I am learning more details, I am committed to advancing an action plan that includes process improvement and accountability to safeguard our district from future criminal activity. I am completely committed to leading our students, families, faculty, and supporters through these challenging times with transparency.

Together, we will be responsive to our students and families and maintain a relentless focus on academic outcomes while ensuring our school system remains healthy, strong, and resilient."

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