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February 20, 2008
For Immediate Release

U.S. Attorney's Office

Eastern District of Louisiana
500 Poydras St
Suite 210-B
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

Tel: 504.680.3000
Fax: 504.589.4510

TWO FORMER ORLEANS PARISH SCHOOL BOARD EMPLOYEES SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON

DRENA CLAY, age 42, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, and DEBRA HARRISON, age 46, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana were sentenced to thirty (30) months imprisonment and forty-one (41) months imprisonment respectively, by U. S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. today. CLAY and HARRISON had been convicted after a seven day jury trial of conspiracy to commit extortion, extortion, conspiracy to commit program fraud and program fraud. HARRISON was also convicted of lying to the FBI on two occasions. Another defendant convicted of lying to the FBI in the trial, Walter Tardy, age 41, is scheduled for sentencing on April 16, 2008.

These convictions are a part of the wide ranging Orleans Parish School Board corruption probe which has netted twenty-seven convictions, including former School Board President, Ellenese Brooks-Simms and insurance broker Lillian Smith-Haydel.

This matter arose from an investigation into fraudulently inflated class coverage hours at Fannie C. Williams Middle School in Eastern New Orleans. HARRISON, the school secretary was in charge of the system by which classes of absent teachers were covered by other teachers present that day, during their free period. However, the jury found that the system was corrupted by HARRISON and CLAY by demanding kickbacks from teachers to falsely inflate the class coverage hours.

Two other defendants, John Baker, age 47 and Trynitha Fulton, age 30, pled guilty as charged and testified in the October jury trial. Baker and Fulton are set for sentencing on June 11, 2008.

HARRISON, who faced a statutory maximum of 55 years, and whose United States sentencing guideline range was 41 - 51 months, not only was sentenced to 41 months but also was ordered to pay a proportional share of $32,750.00 in restitution to the Orleans Parish School Board, and three years supervised release after her release from jail.

CLAY, who faced a statutory maximum of 55 years, and whose United States sentencing guideline range was 30-37 months, not only was sentenced to 30 months but also was ordered to pay a proportional share of $32,750.00 in restitution to the Orleans Parish School Board, as well as three years supervised release.

The Orleans Parish School Systems investigation was a joint investigative effort of the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations Division, and the Department of Education Office of the Inspector General. This case prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carter K. D. Guice, Jr., Daniel Friel and Richard Rose, of the District of Rhode Island.


 
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Last Modified: 02/25/2008