Grand jury waived in TPS embezzlement case
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
2/13/13 at 8:19 AM
Former Tulsa Public Schools Athletic Director Stephanie Spring has waived her right to have the embezzlement case against her presented to a federal grand jury, a waiver that normally precedes a guilty plea.
An assistant U.S. attorney filed the charge against Spring in Tulsa federal court Jan. 31.
The charge alleges that, at some point in 2011, Spring took an unspecified amount of money exceeding $5,000 for the rental of school facilities that should have been deposited into the school district's general fund. Instead, the charge alleges, Spring deposited the money into her personal account.
On Tuesday, Spring signed a form waiving her right to have the case presented to a federal grand jury, which could have opted to indict her.
Although Spring's attorney, Allen Smallwood, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Vicki Zemp Behenna did not comment Tuesday about whether Spring is planning to plead guilty, federal cases charged through this method customarily result in guilty pleas and not trials.
Spring entered a not-guilty plea during her arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Paul Cleary on Tuesday. Federal magistrates are not permitted to take guilty pleas in felony cases unless the defendant signs a special form waiving the right to have such a plea hearing before a district judge.
Smallwood said he would expect Spring's initial hearing before U.S. District Judge John Dowdell to take place in late March or early April.
The prosecution did not ask that Spring be held in custody while the case is pending, and she will await further developments while free on bond.
Spring did not comment after Tuesday's brief hearing. Janice Jones, a Tulsa Public Schools spokeswoman, said the district has been asked by the prosecution not to comment.
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.
Spring was suspended in November 2011 after campus police filed a report in July 2011, stating that Spring and two assistant athletic directors had accessed the personal emails of Spring's secretary. She later resigned.
Original Print Headline: Grand jury waived in TPS embezzlement case
David Harper 918-581-8359
Stephanie Spring makes her way into the Page Belcher Federal Building on Tuesday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World