Ex-TPS athletic director charged with stealing
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 7:10 AM
See the charges: Read the document filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Former Tulsa Public Schools Athletic Director Stephanie Spring was charged in Tulsa federal court Thursday with stealing money from the school district.
The charge alleges that, at some point in 2011, Spring took an unspecified amount of money exceeding $5,000 for the rental of "certain school facilities" that should have been deposited into the school district's general fund. Instead, prosecutors allege, Spring deposited the money into her own personal account.
Last March, it was revealed that the FBI and federal prosecutors had become involved in the investigation into possible embezzlement and misappropriation of funds in the Tulsa Public Schools Athletic Department.
Although the charge was filed in the Tulsa-based Northern District of Oklahoma federal court, the prosecutor who signed it, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vicki Zemp Behenna, works in the Western District of Oklahoma, which is based in Oklahoma City.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Wilson, chief of the Criminal Division for the Tulsa-based district, said the Tulsa office was recused from the case. He said that occurred because Danny Williams Sr. became U.S. attorney for the Northern District during the course of the investigation and had previously - while in private practice - represented a person whose name came up during the probe.
Spring is scheduled to appear in Tulsa federal court for arraignment on Feb. 12.
The charge was filed as an "information" by prosecutors, as opposed to a grand jury indictment. Most cases filed in this way result in guilty pleas.
Tulsa Public Schools officials declined to comment Thursday evening. Superintendent Keith Ballard said in March that an investigation by TPS Campus Police Department officers revealed "activities that could potentially be a violation of federal law."
In July 2011, campus police filed a report stating that Spring and two assistant athletic directors had disclosed to a school attorney that they accessed the personal emails of Spring's secretary "using a password they had located within" the secretary's vacated office.
Spring was suspended in November 2011 and later resigned. In December 2011, East Central High School's athletic director and football coach, Travis Hill, was suspended and subsequently resigned, but officials would not say whether that situation was related.
Coaches from throughout the district were summoned in January 2012 to the Education Service Center for an ethics training session that included an explanation of embezzlement. According to an audio recording from the meeting, Campus Police Chief Gary Rudick urged coaches to report any possible violations to "minimize consequences and maximize opportunities to survive it."
Original Print Headline: Ex-TPS employee charged with theft
David Harper 918-581-8359
Stephanie Spring: The former TPS athletic director is charged with taking money for the rental of "certain school facilities."