OSBI arrests Epic Charter School founders, former CFO on multiple felony charges; Harris and Chaney are Newkirk High School graduates

June 24, 2022 | Courts|Police

OKLAHOMA CITY  – On Thursday, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) is announcing the arrest of Epic Charter Schools founders Benjamin Scott Harris, 47, Oklahoma City, and David Lee Chaney, 43, Oklahoma City, and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Joshua Aaron Brock, 40, Edmond.

Harris and Chaney are graduates of Newkirk High School.

They were taken into custody at approximately 10 a.m. and were transported to the Oklahoma County Detention Center for booking. Harris, Chaney and Brock are facing the following charges:

• Racketeering

• Embezzlement of State Funds

• Obtaining Money by False Pretense

• Conspiracy to Commit a Felony

• Violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act

• Submitting False Documents to the State

• Unlawful Proceeds

Benjamin Scott Harris, 47, Oklahoma City, David Lee Chaney, 43, Oklahoma City, and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Joshua Aaron Brock, 40, Edmond.

The OSBI investigation began in 2013 at the request of then-Governor Mary Fallin based on a complaint from the State Department of Education (SDE) of dual enrollment. A second request was made in 2019 from a state legislator concerned about misappropriation of state funds that were obligated to Epic Blended Learning Centers.

“This has been a very complex and arduous investigation with many roadblocks causing delays in getting to the truth,” said Ricky Adams, OSBI Director. “Harris, Chaney and Brock came up with a ‘get rich quick scheme’ that lined their pockets with tax dollars that were to be spent for the benefit of Oklahoma students. The OSBI criminal investigation unraveled the intricate scheme layer by layer, in spite of a lack of cooperation, legal obstacles and delay tactics.”

Through Epic Charter Schools, Epic Youth Services (EYS) and the Student Learning Fund, a complicated criminal enterprise emerged that involved among other things: co-mingling of funds, excessive and unnecessary management fees, the use of Oklahoma tax dollars in California, political influence, concealment of profits, submission of false invoices, and the illegal use of employees. Over the years, the scheme resulted in a cost to the state of Oklahoma in excess of $22 million.

“We are grateful for the assistance of State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd and multiple independent private audit agencies that helped throughout the investigation. I also want to thank District Attorney David Prater for pursing this case on behalf of Oklahoma students, their families and the tax payers,” said Adams. Harris, Chaney and Brock have a $250,000 bond.

Fun.com

State Superintendent Hofmeister remarks on Epic’s founders’ arrests

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the following remarks after today’s arrests of Epic Charter Schools co-founders David Chaney and Ben Harris and former CFO Josh Brock on racketeering and other charges. 

“The money that Epic’s founders took was taxpayer dollars for children’s learning. They not only robbed the children of Epic but the children of Oklahoma. It is unconscionable that the alleged deceitfulness of the school’s founders made them multimillionaires at the expense of taxpayers. This fraud was allowed to happen because of cracks in state law that still exist today. It is indisputable that they were able to exploit open and obvious weaknesses in the law for their own personal gain. This saga also highlights why there is no room for a for-profit management school in public education. Epic’s management turned the purpose of education on its head and incentivized cash over kids.”

(see related story)

Latest Headlines
Legal Headlines
Story Comments

Story comments are disabled for launch. Feel free to visit our Facebook page or Twitter profile to interact with other readers.