Feds: Ex-Lincoln Charter School official embezzled $34K in grant funding
A former Lincoln Charter School official charged in federal court with embezzling more than $34,000 from the York City school is expected to plead guilty as part of a negotiated plea agreement, according to court records.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg on Tuesday filed a felony charge of theft from a federal program against Eliseo Sierra, 43, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, according to court records.
New Jersey-based attorney Frank Masciocchi, who is representing Sierra, declined comment.
It happened in May 2014 while Sierra was the school's operations manager, according to Dawn Clark, spokesperson for Harrisburg-based U.S. Attorney David Freed.
The $34,432 Sierra is accused of stealing came from U.S. Department of Education grants to Lincoln Charter School, Clark wrote in a news release.
Principal responds: Leonard Hart Sr., principal and CEO of Lincoln Charter School, issued a statement Wednesday noting that Sierra has not been employed by the school since 2014.
"Since the time of Mr. Sierra's departure, Lincoln Charter School transformed its administration and board governance, including policies and procedures, to ensure both fidelity to its mission and its responsibilities as a steward of public funds, both state and federal," Hart wrote.
The school cooperated fully with federal officials investigating Sierra, according to Hart, who thanked the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg and other federal officials "for ensuring that justice prevailed."
The FBI investigated the case, Clark said.
Plea agreement: On April 24, about a month before the charge was filed, Sierra signed a plea agreement with Freed's office stating he will plead guilty to the felony offense, according to court records.
That document states the maximum penalty Sierra could face is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
However, Clark noted that maximum sentences aren't an accurate indicator of the potential sentences eventually handed down to defendants.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.