On Friday, I pondered why former Family Foundations Academy leader Sean Moore didn’t get his federal sentencing on March 2nd. One of my sources gave me the rundown. Turns out Moore’s sentencing was rescheduled for tomorrow, April 3rd. But that has been postponed without a new date at this time. I have to admit, I’m very curious how much time a Delaware charter school leader will get for taking money meant for kids. I guess we will find out one of these months. Who wants to start a pool on this? What month do you think Moore will finally go to prison?
Former Family Foundations Academy charter school leader Sean Moore was supposed to receive a federal sentencing for his role in embezzlement of school funds. Nothing of record shows up anywhere. This is very puzzling. Why wouldn’t Moore have been sentenced? I received an anonymous tip a couple of months ago that suggested Moore may have cut a deal with the authorities. Who these authorities may have been is unknown or what the nature of the deal was. Moore was charged by the federal government so any deal would have been with the feds.
If Moore did cut a deal which would be unrelated to education, many Delaware citizens would be VERY upset. This was a man who was charged with looking out for the best interests of children. With a documented amount of over $160,000 stolen from the school, it is painfully obvious Moore had his own best interests in mind. When the allegations first came to light, many parents from the school refused to believe the leader would ever do this, but when it was revealed he did abscond with money meant for kids, parents were disgusted. This was just one of a few Delaware charter schools that came under the spotlight for this sort of thing but it had the biggest profile in the media. If Moore did get a sentencing, it should be public knowledge. He could have faced up to 30 years for his crimes in federal prison.
This saga has dragged out for years. It finally came to light in December of 2014 during the school’s charter renewal. Moore and fellow school leader Dr. Tennell Brewington were terminated. Other members of the board resigned and eventually the board was reconstructed with new members. The school entered a partnership with East Side Charter School which is now under the umbrella called Vision Academies. Family Foundations recently changed its name to The Charter School of New Castle.
22 months after serious allegations arose regarding theft of school funds, justice finally caught up with Sean Moore. The former Family Foundations Academy co-director faced a federal judge today and said he was guilty. When any public schools gets federal funds and some of those federal funds are stolen, the feds get first dibs on prosecution. But Moore made it easy for them by pleading guilty today. He faces sentencing on March 2nd, 2017.
The Family Foundations Academy was probably my first really big investigative piece. It began during their charter renewal process in December of 2014 and stretched out the next few months. I don’t know how much my initial reporting on Moore and fellow co-director Tennell Brewington’s activities led to what happened today. The feds rolled these charges down a couple of months ago. So why did it take so long for Moore to enter a plea? From what I’m hearing, they had to find him first. That took some doing.
Moore’s fellow co-director, Tennell Brewington, is gainfully employed in Delaware. She was terminated from Family Foundations Academy when Moore took over the school during his brief coup-detat but she too was found to have stolen money from the school. Initial reports indicated she did not take as much money as Moore, but if she used any federal funds she too would face a federal judge. If not, I’m still waiting on Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn to do something. And what about Noel Rodriguez from Academy of Dover? I guess these things take time.
From the United States Department of Justice:
WILMINGTON, Del. – Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Sean Moore, age 43, of New Castle, Del., pleaded guilty to three counts of federal program theft before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews. Moore is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2017.
According to court records and statements made in open court, between July 1, 2011 and January 31, 2015, while serving as the Director of Finance and Operations for the Family Foundations Academy, a charter school in New Castle, Del., Moore embezzled $161,871 from the school.
Moore accomplished this embezzlement in a number of ways. First, Moore charged personal expenses to an unauthorized credit card he opened in the name of the school. Moore also abused the State of Delaware’s voucher program, by which charter schools are permitted to submit qualified expenses for reimbursement, and the State of Delaware’s procurement card system, by which the State of Delaware issues credit cards to charter school administrators to purchase necessary school supplies. In addition, Moore stole money from the school’s fundraising account, which consisted of money collected from parents of school students, local sponsors, and an after-school program. Moore also took money from the school’s construction loan account.
Moore used the embezzled money for personal expenses such as retail purchases, home improvement purchases, electronics, auto loan payments, auto services and accessories, federal tax payments, groceries, entertainment, food, gas, travel, gifts and collectibles, shoes, hotels, jewelry, train tickets, and video games.
During this time, the Family Foundations Academy received significant federal funding, which provides the basis for the federal program theft charges. The maximum penalty for each count is ten years in prison followed by a three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Education – Office of the Inspector General, and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth L. Van Pelt is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
I would like to know how Moore could settle with the Board of Directors at FFA over stolen funds. If he stole $161k in funds and settled with them for $67k, as per WDEL, that is $94,000 in lost education funding for Delaware kids. That is some serious coin. And Moore only paid back $13k of that settlement amount. But he will face jail time. That is all but a guarantee.
It’s about time! After almost two years of waiting for Sean Moore to get charged with something, information comes out that he is being charged by the feds for theft. This very quick blurb in the News Journal states Moore has three federal counts against him. As most folks in Delaware know, Moore, along with his co-charter leader/co-conspirator Dr. Tennell Brewington, both formerly with Family Foundations Academy in New Castle, DE, got busted after a forensic audit showed they spent over $150,000 in school funds for personal use. They were terminated and the school could have closed if a nearby charter school didn’t essentially take them over.
I was curious why Moore was charged by the feds and not Brewington. Either they haven’t announced anything for her yet or her theft of taxpayer money for personal use didn’t involve anything with federal dollars.
Now we just have to wait for the other former charter thieves, Noel Rodriguez of Academy of Dover and Shanna Simmens of Providence Creek Academy, to get their charges. Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn hinted to me almost a year ago that “other parties” were looking at these situations. As I waited and waited, with nothing coming out, I took it upon myself to contact the FBI about this earlier in the spring. I imagine Denn’s hands were tied once the feds became involved and he obviously couldn’t say anything concrete about it. I’m glad he was on the up and up about it though.
This is the only information I could find on these charges, but it looks like the Associated Press picked up on it because the same story appears in the Washington Post and many other media outlets. There is an important lesson here: don’t steal from kids. This is what happens when you get caught! As more information on this becomes available I will certainly give updates. I can’t find the actual court filing yet, but once information becomes available, you will know!
Not long ago, Sean Moore was at the top of the world. He was a co-Head of School at Family Foundations Academy. Together with Dr. Tennell Brewington they ran a successful school. To the outside world, the school was doing well. It wasn’t at the top of the heap, but it wasn’t at the bottom either. In the Fall of 2014, everything changed when FFA had their charter renewal. Everything came out: the parent complaints, the conflicts of interest between the school leaders and members of the board, and of course, the financial abuse.
A little over a year later, and Sean Moore has the term “finance professional” on his Linkedin account. According to the Auditor of Account’s report, released over a month ago, Moore and Brewington still haven’t paid back all the funds they owe the school. But Moore was able to have enough funds to start his own business, Planet Beach Contempo Spas. He is listed as the franchise owner. Aside from his time at FFA, from July 2008-January 2015, most of Moore’s experience has been in business. In fact, twenty years ago he was an auditor himself!
With all that business experience for twelve years prior to FFA, why would he risk it all by embezzling funds from a charter school? This is just a guess, but I would surmise he was doing it for so long without getting caught he most likely thought he never would be. Like many citizens in Delaware, I am wondering when some type of charges will be announced against Moore and the other charter embezzlers. Academy of Dover’s Ex Leader Noel Rodriguez, Brewington, Moore, and just added to the list last week, Shanna Simmens from Providence Creek Academy. And we haven’t heard anything about those with lower offenses but still considered to be abuse of funds by the State Auditor’s office: Sally Maldonado with Kuumba Academy and the executive director and board president at Delaware College Prep (who will be shutting down at the end of the school year as Red Clay’s board did not renew their charter in December).
I find it ironic Moore is praising his business acumen and starting his own business. I’ve said this a million times, but if it was the average citizen, we would be in jail by now…
That was quick! Two days ago, the Delaware Charter School Network Governing Board had Family Foundations Academy Head of School Sean Moore listed as their treasurer. Today, he is no longer listed as a member of the board. It seems even the great charter school cheerleading organization wants to distance themselves from the controversial Moore. One individual loosely connected with the network, who wished to remain anonymous, said “Sean Moore is toxic to anyone associated with him right now. I’m not surprised at all.”
Family Foundations Academy is now under financial investigation by the Delaware State Auditor of Accounts, and sources tell me Tom Wagner is overseeing this case. Expect more news on this soon. Once the regular media jumps on this story, it will blow up quick. But remember, Kilroy broke this story first, and I quickly jumped on it. And who says blogs are crap?