Former Charter School Operator Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement and Tax Fraud

The former director of the Community Preparatory Academy, which ran charter schools in Southern California, pleaded guilty Friday to embezzling $3.1 million. She now faces up to faces up to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged Janis Bucknor, 52, used the stolen funds for personal items like Disney tickets and cruises, Louis Vuitton products, and the National American Miss pageant. The stolen money made up nearly a third of the government funding CPA received between early 2014 and November 2019. Her guilty plea includes one count of theft, embezzlement and intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal dollars, plus one count of tax evasion.

The Los Angeles Unified School District discovered the criminal activity after a routine audit in 2018. It did not renew the company’s charter, leading to the closure of CPA’s schools in Carson and South Los Angeles.

Read more about the case at the Los Angeles Times