Former PJUSD Officials Plead Guilty to $1M Theft Charges

A former assistant superintendent and a former IT director of the Patterson Joint Unified School District (PJUSD) entered guilty pleas to charges of theft totaling more than $1 million in Sacramento federal court on February 1.

Former Assistant Superintendent and Former IT Director of Patterson Joint Unified School District Plead Guilty to $1 Million Embezzlement Scheme

— EDCAnews (@EDCAnews) February 1, 2024

According to United States Attorney Phillip Talbert, two individuals, Jeffrey Menge, 43, and Eric Drabert, 44, have acknowledged participating in many schemes to defraud the school district, including stealing from programs that receive federal funding.

Drabert was appointed by Menge as the district’s IT director, perhaps around 2020. Drabert and Menge conspired to steal funds from the education system. Menge made up the character “Frank Barnes” to work as an executive for CenCal Tech as he was unable to undertake interested-party transactions with the school system. 

Then, Menge and Drabert defrauded the school district out of more than $1.2 million by using CenCal Tech. The transactions included overcharging, double invoicing, and billing for goods that CenCal Tech did not deliver to the school system.

Menge could not work with the educational system as an interested party, so he created the character “Frank Barnes” to serve as an executive for CenCal Tech. Then, Menge and Drabert used CenCal Tech to con the school system out of about $1.2 million.

Court records reveal that Menge and Drabert were also involved in other forms of theft. For instance, they bought expensive graphics cards and ran a cryptocurrency  “mining” farm at the school district using those cards, other property owned by the district, and energy.

After that, they moved the cryptocurrency they had mined into wallets they could manage themselves. Menge also misused vehicles owned by the school district, including buying a Chevy truck and selling it for a profit, as his vehicle.

During the scheme, Drabert stole between $250,000 and $300,000, and Menge embezzled between $1 million and $1.5 million. 

On May 30, 2024, U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley is set to sentence Menge and Drabert. The maximum statutory punishment for Menge and Drabert is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, they were mandated to make up for the entire loss brought on by their improper actions.

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2024-02-02 21:56