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Retired Detroit school official sentenced in fraud case

DETROIT – A woman who retired from Detroit Public Schools after nearly 40 years was sentenced Friday for her role in in a fraud scheme reaping nearly $1.3 million in tutoring services that were never provided.

Carolyn StarkeyDarden, 72, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by 30 months of supervised release. She was forced to pay restitution to DPSCD in the amount of $980,855.45, which has already been paid through forfeiture.

The judge gave StarkeyDarden a prison sentence that was six months shorter than what had been agreed upon.

StarkeyDarden pleaded guilty back in June. She told a judge that she had served hundreds of students, but she also admitted to submitting "false and exaggerated" billings over seven years.

According to court records, StarkeyDarden obtained at least $1,275,000 from DPS through a scheme as Detroit Public Schools Director of Grant Development. Her business, MI Learning, never provided the tutoring services it was being paid to provide.

StarkeyDarden made up test scores, attendance and other records.

Defense lawyer Gerald Evelyn said it's a "sad conclusion" to her long career at the Detroit district. She retired in 2005 as director of grant development. 

Separately, a dozen former or current Detroit principals were charged with accepting kickbacks from a contractor. Most have admitted guilt.