New charges possible in DPS bribery scheme

Federal judge announces new charges could be on the way

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ®, Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - After a federal judge dropped a bombshell in court in the Detroit Public Schools bribery scandal, she said a whole lot of new charges could be on the way.

Another news conference and another round of federal court appearances appear to be coming for Detroit principals headed off to jail.

Ronnie Sims was flanked by his family as he exited federal court Wednesday, a happy man after learning that he will only have to spend 15 months in prison.

"Fair sentence, and I'm waiting to get back to my community and do what's right," Sims said.

The sentence was about half of what the government originally wanted, but Sims cooperated in the investigation and received a lesser sentence as a result.

Sims apologized to his students, their parents and the district for getting involved in a school supplies kickback scheme as the principal at two Detroit schools over four years.

In the courtroom Wednesday, he told the judge there was considerable peer pressure to get involved with Norman Shy, the ringleader of the multimillion-dollar scam.

"There was a lot of pressure from groups to participate," he told Judge Victoria Roberts. "You could be shunned. There were people pressuring me to use certain vendors. I fell into that."

The judge was unimpressed by that defense, but his statement is a window into the corruption problems at Detroit Public Schools.

"The illegal vendor kickback scheme was a sophisticated fraud," Roberts said while sentencing Shy and Deputy Superintendent Clara Flowers Tuesday. "To call it serious is a gross understatement. More principals are involved. Twenty-two other current and former principals are involved."

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She didn't say when it would happen, but made it clear another principal parade is headed to the federal courthouse.

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