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Miami Man Arrested for Stealing State Education Funds


Tami Torres
(850) 413-2842 
MIAMI—Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle today announced the arrest of Charles I. Ogugua for stealing state education funds.  Specifically, Ogugua is believed to have accepted state scholarship funds for students who were not enrolled in Ogugua's school.   The arrest stems from an investigation by the Department of Financial Services' Office of Fiscal Integrity in cooperation with the Miami-Dade Public Schools Inspector General and the Dade County State Attorney's Office.
Ogugua, 45, is the president, owner and operator of Heritage Schools of Florida, Inc., based in Miami.  He has been charged with one count of grand theft in the second degree, two counts of grand theft in the third degree and one count of scheme to defraud. 
"It is unfortunate that this man's actions would harm a scholarship program that has helped thousands of children in Florida," said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.
"School owners and school administrators are trusted with the future development of our children.  Mr. Ogugua has sold our most needy children short by grabbing a few quick dollars instead of helping children boost their future to a better level," said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Charges are based on evidence that Ogugua obtained 29 Opportunity Scholarship checks and one McKay scholarship check from the Department of Education totaling $33,928.25 by misrepresenting these 30 students were attending Heritage Schools of Florida, Inc.  Based on sworn statements from students and parents, Ogugua had full knowledge the students were not attending Heritage Schools during the enrollment periods in which scholarship checks were applicable. The theft occurred between August 2002 and October 2003.
Under Florida law, the Opportunity Scholarship Program allows parents whose children are attending a failing school for two of the last four years to apply for state funds to pursue private school as an educational alternative.  The McKay Scholarship Program provides parents whose children have disabilities to apply for state-funded scholarships to attend an alternative public school or a private school.