Former South Los Angeles constitution college director charged with embezzling over $3M

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Former South Los Angeles charter school director charged with embezzling $3.2M

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The former executive director of a Southern California charter school organization agreed to plead guilty on Friday, embezzled more than $ 3 million and used it for personal expenses, including private schooling for her children and nearly $ 221,000 for Disney- Cruises and theme park tickets.

The 52-year-old Janis Bucknor from Baldwin Hills agreed to plead two charges of theft and tax fraud. According to a statement by the US law firm, she could be in prison for up to 15 years if convicted.

Bucknor led the Community Preparatory Academy, a non-profit organization that ran two schools in South Los Angeles and in the suburb of Carson.

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She was accused of stealing nearly $ 3.2 million between 2014 and 2019, which is almost a third of all federal and state funds going to charter schools, the authorities said.

In her plea agreement, Bucknor said she used the money for travel, restaurants, shopping on Amazon and Etsy, private schooling for her children, and Disney-related expenses. She also bought three houses.

During an audit in 2018, unauthorized payments were found by some academy accounts to "Disney, Louis Vuitton, Girl Scouts, Ticketmaster, Uber, Pediatric Dentistry for Teeth, Williams Sonoma, National Miss Pageants, and Forest Lawn Mortuaries," according to the consent form.

Bucknor also admitted that he had failed to pay nearly $ 200,000 in federal taxes on undeclared income.

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