Founder of L.A.-Based Charter School Network Who Misspent $3.2M Gets 30 Months in Prison

Vielka McFarlane is seen in a file photo from 2011. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Vielka McFarlane is seen in a file photo from 2011. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The founder of Los Angeles-based charter school network Celerity Educational Group was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for misspending $3.2 million in public funds.

In January, Vielka McFarlane pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate and embezzle funds for personal use. McFarlane, 56, had for years used her charter schools’ credit card and spent taxpayer money on expensive clothing, luxury hotel stays and first-class flights. The bulk of the money spent was for the purchase and renovation of an office building in Columbus, Ohio, where McFarlane intended to open another charter school.

McFarlane was also ordered to pay restitution of $225,138.15 within 60 days.

The case dates to 2012. A routine request for Celerity’s financial records from L.A. Unified’s charter schools revealed credit card statements of lavish purchases beginning in 2009 — five years after McFarlane had founded the first charter school. The school district’s inspector general opened an investigation and eventually, the federal government got involved.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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