Former BISD Employees Indicted for Theft, Cheating
A former Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) Assistant Superintendent was one of two employees indicted on federal charges in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Patricia Adams Lambert, 60, of Beaumont and Victoria Gauthier Steward, 31, of Lake Charles, LA, were named in the five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury today. Lambert and Steward are accused of conspiring to cheat on standardized test results while Lambert is also alleged to have embezzled over $750,000 from the school district.
According to the indictment, Lambert is alleged to have devised several schemes to defraud the school district and even the students directly while employed with BISD. In October 2006, while Lambert was principal of Central Medical Magnet High School (CMMHS), she took control of the CMMHS booster club, which raises money to support various athletic teams at the school. The booster club raises funds largely through concession sales at football games and had been controlled by parents in the past. Lambert is alleged to have diverted funds from the booster club account, which was not subject to BISD oversight or auditing, by writing checks payable to her children and then depositing them directly into her own personal account. In addition to stealing directly from the booster club account, Lambert is also alleged to have diverted funds which traditionally had been deposited into the Student Activity Account, which is subject to oversight and auditing, to the booster club account. An example of diverted funds is student transcript fees, which are usually $5 or less. Lambert also diverted money from the Medical Magnet program to the booster club account. Students enrolled in the program, which allows them to earn college credit while attending high school, were required to pay tuition fees which amounted to $275 per student per year for the 2010-2011 school year. However, Lambert is alleged to have inflated the fees, requiring students enrolled in the program to pay $1,000 per student per semester and that payments be made in cash or by money order. In 2007, Lambert assisted a close family member in becoming an authorized vendor with BISD. From 2007-2013, Lambert directed that all printing and graphic work prepared for CMMHS be done through her family member’s companies. This scheme alone resulted in approximately $480,000 paid by CMMHS or BISD at Lambert’s direction. The indictment alleges that Lambert’s fraudulent activity amounted to $751,602.76.
The indictment also alleges that in order to increase the standardized test scores at CMMHS, Lambert directed others to change students’ tests before submitting the answer documents to the BISD administration building for forwarding to the State of Texas’ contractor for analysis. Steward, a teacher at CMMHS, is alleged to have performed a large portion of the actual test changing and on more than one occasion, would provide teachers with a stack of tests and an answer key.
Lambert is charged with four counts of fraud upon programs receiving federal funds and if convicted, faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count. Lambert and Steward are both charged with conspiracy and if convicted, each face up to five years in federal prison.
This case was prosecuted as part of the Joint Task Force established in March 2014 between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute major crimes – more specifically, violent crime and crimes related to the abuse of public trust in Jefferson County, Texas.
If you have any information related to this matter, please call the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 409-832-8571.
This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Education Office of Inspector General, the Texas Education Agency, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and the Beaumont Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher T. Tortorice and Joseph R. Batte.
A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.