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April 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

4 Indicted in Connection With Theft of $3 Million From Detroit Schools

“Make Me Wanna Holler, Throw Up Both My Hands” — Marvin Gaye, Inner City Blues, 1971marvin_gaye

By Allan Lengel

If Marvin Gaye were still alive, the latest news out of Detroit would make him wanna holler. Really holler.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Wednesday unsealed an indictment charging two former officials in Detroit Public Schools’ risk management department and two vendors with “converting more than $3 million” of school funds to themselves, family and friends. Some of the money was spent on  lavish parties and jewelry.

The news comes at a time the beleaguered school district faces roughly a $300 million deficit and the city in general is struggling to maintain everyday services.

The eight-count indictment alleges bribery, fraud, extortion and money laundering and names Stephen Hill, 58, of Detroit, former executive director of the risk management office and Christina Polk-Osumah, 59, former risk management finance manager along with Sherry Washington, 53, and her sister, Gwendolyn Washington, 66, both of Detroit, who are partners in Associates for Learning, a vendor hired to administer a health awareness program for the district.

The indictment alleges that $40,000 of the money went for a party to honor Hill for his services to the school district. Another $17,650 was spent by Christina Polk-Osumah to cover two parties, one for her mother’s birthday and the other for her mother’s retirement from Detroit Public Schools.

“Protecting the integrity of public funds is always a priority,” U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said in a statement. “However, stealing funds from a public school in these times is particularly egregious, as it threatens to rob our children of their futures and ultimately compounds future crime problems.”

Robert C. Bobb, the Emergency Financial Manager for the Detroit Public Schools, who has been credited with helping to root out systemic corruption, said in a statement: “By bringing to justice those who have sought to enrich themselves at the expense of our children, we hope to send a message that the level of corruption that has been allowed to flourish in Detroit Public Schools in the past will no longer be tolerated.”

Read Indictment

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