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Probe: Oklahoma virtual charter founders embezzled millions

Eufaula Public School closed Friday due to power outage
Posted at 11:41 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 23:37:23-04

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Investigators allege the founders of Oklahoma's largest virtual charter school embezzled millions of dollars in state funds through an illegal scheme involving the use of "ghost students" to inflate enrollment numbers.

The allegations against Epic Charter Schools were outlined in an affidavit for a search warrant of an Epic teacher's Oklahoma City home.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Tommy Johnson wrote in the affidavit that the school's founders, David Chaney and Ben Harris, split illegal profits of more than $10 million between 2013 and 2018.

Johnson said the men recruited home-school and private-school students to enroll in Epic, sometimes without the knowledge of the students' parents.

The investigation is ongoing, and formal charges haven't been filed.

An Epic spokeswoman says school officials are "supremely confident" they operated legally.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was in Bixby tonight talking about the investigation.

"These are very disturbing and serious allegations and we take them as such," said Hofmeister.

Hofmeister says the state department is working with OSBI investigators on the case.

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