Ex-Detroit Spain Elementary principal pleads guilty in bribery case

Ronald Alexander accused of taking kickbacks from district supplies vendor

By Gillian Cruce - Intern

DETROIT - A former Detroit Public Schools principal has pleaded guilty in his bribery case that involves a kickback scheme with a district school supplies vendor.

Ronald Alexander was the principal of Spain Elementary. Under the terms of his plea deal he could face 24 to 30 months in prison. 

May 2009 through June 2014

The charges allege Alexander teamed up with the owner of AllState Sales, Norman Shy, to receive kickbacks totaling about $23,000. 

Alexander was part of a group of 12 other principals accused of scheming with Shy's company.

The scheme included the district paying thousands of dollars for auditorium chairs, teaching material, line paper, and other classroom supplies that simply never arrived or came in smaller quantities than ordered. 

In total investigators believe of the $5 million Shy's business received, $2.7 million is deemed fraudulent.

"Shy devised and engages in a scheme to fraudulently obtain funds from DPS by agreeing with at least 13 DPS principals to pay them a total of approximately $908,518 in kickbacks relating to business with DPS," the criminal complaint said. 

Read: 13 current, former DPS principals charged with bribery, conspiracy

Donation from Ellen

In February, Alexander shed tears when his school was presented with a $500,000 check from the Ellen Show.

I couldn’t breathe," Alexander said at the time. "I started crying. I didn’t know what to do."

Alexander filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011.

Meanwhile, Spain Elementary is allowed to keep the donation from the Ellen Show, which had partnered with Lowe's to make the donation. 

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