Charter school founder sentenced for lavishly misspent public funds that led to Canoga Park recording studio

May 22, 2019 by

LOS ANGELES – The founder of Los Angeles charter school network Celerity Educational Group was sentenced today to 2 1/2 years in federal prison for misappropriating $3.2 million in public education funds and using the money for personal expenses.

Celerity schools include this one on Central Avenue in the Central Alameda section of Los Angeles. The charter school operator’s founder was sentenced May 20, 2019. (Google Street View)

Vielka McFarlane pleaded guilty in January to a single felony count of conspiracy to misappropriate and embezzle public funds, admitting that she used part of the money to pay for personal expenses including first-class air travel, fine dining and luxury goods.

The bulk of the misspent funds — which came from the U.S. Department of Education — was used to purchase and renovate an office building in Columbus, Ohio, where McFarlane oversaw the founding of a separate charter school, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

She also admitted improperly using public funds to pay the security deposit, rent and renovations at a soundstage and recording studio in Canoga Park, which was rarely used by students.

In a brief statement to the court, McFarlane blamed a previous attorney for advising her to start a company in order to aid in Celerity’s expansion.

“That was my first mistake,” she told the judge. “My intent was not to take the money and run. I intended to repay it — and I did.”

Before imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner told the defendant that she stood before him as an example to students.

“If you make mistakes, you have to pay the price,” the judge said.

Source: Charter school founder sentenced for lavishly misspent public funds that led to Canoga Park recording studio – Daily News

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