Former Academy of Dover principal charged with theft

DOVER — The former principal of the Academy of Dover Charter School was indicted on four counts of federal program theft and faces up to 40 years in prison, the United States attorney for the District of Delaware announced Thursday.

Noel Rodriguez

Noel Rodriguez, 55, is charged with embezzling more than $5,000 from the school from 2011 to 2014. He may also have to pay fines and restitution if found guilty.

A June 2015 audit from the state of Delaware said Mr. Rodriguez used school funds to purchase personal items, spending at least $128,000 over three years.

The report alleged he paid legal fees for sexual-harassment lawsuits, reimbursed employees for purchases in violation of state policy and rewarded teachers with stipends and bonuses without adequate justification or board approval.

Academy of Dover received more than $10,000 in federal funding while Mr. Rodriguez was employed by the school.

State Auditor Tom Wagner received a tip in August 2014, and the Department of Education and the school’s board of directors subsequently began investigating.

Mr. Rodriguez resigned in September 2014 at the request of the board.

The school, which opened in 2003, serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General and the Delaware Department of Justice, with assistance from the Delaware auditor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Van Pelt is prosecuting the case.

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