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New BISD board decides to part ways with BISD Police Chief Clydell Duncan
BEAUMONT - The Beaumont school district’s new board voted to terminate BISD police chief Clydell Duncan's contract. The board also suspended him without pay.

The superintendent would not elaborate on what prompted the termination of Clydell Duncan’s contract, however, spokesperson for the district, Nakisha Myles, says he did not have the proper certification.

About a dozen officers from the department joined community members at Thursday’s meeting but many left when the board of managers postponed the vote on the police department's future. The decision to terminate Duncan’s contract came at the end of the meeting.

Judge sentences former high-ranking BISD employees

BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull

Two former high-ranking Beaumont school district employees are preparing to spend years in federal prison for stealing more than $4 million.

Federal Judge Ron Clark sentenced former BISD director of finance Devin McCraney, 35, to 68 months in federal prison and former comptroller Sharika Allison, 43, to 46 months. The judge ordered them to pay restitution for the money they took.

A federal grand jury indicted the pair in January on 18 counts of embezzling the money through a series of wire transfers. McCraney pled guilty to fraud upon programs receiving federal funds. Allison pled guilty to conspiracy.

The sentencing hearings are the result of an investigation that has led to charges against others linked to BISD and questions about mismanagement in the district, prompting a state takeover

It all started in November 2013 when FBI agents raided the BISD headquarters and the homes of McCraney and Allison. The two were charged with embezzling more than $4 million from the Beaumont Independent School District. After more than a year of investigations, the pair learned their fate Thursday morning at the federal courthouse.

Devin McCraney arrived first and said nothing. Inside, it was a different story. He apologized to the community and said he made no excuses.

“It hurts me to see the hurt I caused other people,” McCraney said. “I know the damage I’ve done can’t be undone.”

His attorney, Todd Clemons, asked the judge for leniency in the sentence, pointing to McCraney’s past. Clemons said the defendant grew up in an abusive environment, was the first college graduate from his family and had achieved Eagle Scout status.

“He took full responsibility for what he did. He made a very, very poor choice, or several poor choices, but Devin’s a good man, he’s a good, kind man, he’s got a huge heart,” Clemons said afterward.

Clemons also argued McCraney’s actions didn’t constitute a “sophisticated scheme.”

“They weren’t vulnerable at all and this wasn’t sophisticated,” Clemons said, referring to the school district. “He simply took money out of a checking account and nobody was looking at the checking account and he did it several times.”  

Judge Clark explained how wire transfers to a fake business and concealing numbers through notations supported calling it a sophisticated scheme.

Prosecutors then argued for a more severe sentence, citing his position in the district and lifestyle.

“McCraney spent three years of his life living like a rock star,” the attorney told the judge

Before reading the sentence, Judge Clark told McCraney, “Given your history and background, this case is particularly sad,” explaining how the community needed leaders.

He then sentenced McCraney to 68 months in federal prison.

Next up was Sharika Allison. She had no comment walking into the courthouse and declined to make a statement in the courtroom when given the opportunity.

Her attorney also argued for a lesser sentence, telling the judge the idea to come up with the fake business in his client’s name wasn’t her idea and that she received and profited from less than $1 million of the $4 million embezzled. He also argued that her actions didn’t constitute a sophisticated scheme.

As he did in the sentencing of McCraney, Judge Clark held that Allison’s actions were a sophisticated scheme.

Unlike McCraney’s case, prosecutors did not object to a less severe sentence, citing her cooperation during FBI raids.

The judge then sentenced her to 46 months in prison.

As Allison and her supporters left the courthouse, tensions boiled over. Some became physical, shoving members of the media.

Both McCraney and Allison have until Oct. 21, 2014 to report to federal prison or the U.S. Marshal’s office. If they fail to report on time, they could face additional prison time. McCraney asked to serve his time near Westlake, Louisiana, where he has family. Allison asked to serve near Bryan/College Station.
 
While McCraney and Allison wait to hear where they’ll serve their sentences, the district is left to look to the future to solve some of the problems the pair created.

“It’s a step definitely in moving forward, not only the school district but the Beaumont community as well,” BISD communications specialist Nakisha Myles said.

Several other people linked to BISD are facing charges from a federal and state investigation that is continuing.


Watch first Texas gubernatorial debate at 6 p.m. Friday on KFDM.com -- between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis
KFDM News - The stage is set for the historic first debate between Texas gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Greg Abbott and Senator Wendy Davis. They will square off at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance in the Rio Grande Valley.

The two will duke it out over key issues like abortion, immigration, border security and education.

You can watch the entire debate live online. If you have questions for the candidates, use the hashtag #rgvdebate on Twitter.

This is the first time in 14 years that Texas will elect a new governor. The debate will last one hour and rules have been pre approved by both participants.

Representatives from each side participated in a coin toss to decide who will answer the first debate question and who will ask the first candidate to candidate question. Each question will have a response time of one minute, and each rebuttal will have a response time of 45 seconds.

Wendy Davis won the coin toss and opted to start the debate by answering the first question. As a result,Greg Abbott will have the final remarks by going last for closing statements.

A great twist will be the candidate to candidate questions which are sure to set off some fireworks as Abbott and Davis battle one another over the airwaves with attack commercials.

McCraney gets 68 months in federal prison, Allison, 46 months, $4 million restitution jointly, no fines

(10 a.m update) BEAUMONT - A federal judge has sentenced Devin McCraney to 68 months in federal prison and Sharika Allison to 46 months, and ordered them, jointly, to pay $4,041,705.27 in restitution. The judge didn't fine the defendants.

KFDM's Haley Bull is covering the sentencing. Watch KFDM and stay with kfdm.com for updates.

Judge Ron Clark sentenced Devin McCraney at about 10:00 a.m. Thursday and Sharika Allison's sentencing followed at about 11:30 a.m.

He has to report to the U.S. Marshal's Service or federal prison by 2 p.m. October 21. He requested a prison near near Westlake, Louisiana where he has family. 

Allison must also report to the U.S. Marshal's Service or federal prison by the same date, October 21. She has requested placement in the Bryan/College Station area.

McCraney is the former BISD Director of Finance. He pled guilty to fraud upon programs receiving federal funds. The sentencing range was 57-71 months. He could have faced up to 10 years in prison based on the original charge and prior to the pre-sentencing report.

Allison pled guilty to conspiracy. She faced a sentencing range from 46-57 months. She could have received up to 5 years in federal prison based on the original charge and prior to the pre-sentencing report.

Prosecutors say the pair embezzled $4 million from BISD.


Statement from U.S. Attorney's Office about McCraney/Allison sentencings

BEAUMONT, Texas - From U.S. Attorney's Office

The former Director of Finance and Comptroller of the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) have been sentenced to federal prison for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Devin Wayne McCraney, 35, of Beaumont, pleaded guilty on Apr. 14, 2014, to the charge of fraud upon programs receiving federal funds and was sentenced to 68 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

Sharika Baksh Allison, 43, of Beaumont, pleaded guilty on Apr. 14, 2014, to the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud upon programs receiving federal funds and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison today by Judge Clark.

McCraney and Allison were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,041,705.27. 

According to information presented in court, McCraney, Director of Finance for BISD, and Allison, Comptroller for BISD, devised schemes in which they embezzled over $4 million from BISD.  They were indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 8, 2014.

“These punishments demonstrate that if you violate the public trust, being the true will of the citizens of Beaumont to have and maintain a responsible public school system, you will be punished,” said U.S. Attorney Bales. “The Beaumont school district enjoys many good, dedicated educators and employees.  This is the beginning of the end for those who chose to breach our trust, and it also begins the removal of the cloud that remains over the heads of those great employees who, on a daily basis, are responsible for the care and education of Beaumont’s children.”

“These defendants knowingly and willfully abused their position of trust to steal education funds that were supposed to be used to provide services for the most innocent of victims – school children.  That is unacceptable,” said Neil Sanchez, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s South Central Regional Office.  “I’m proud of the work of OIG Special Agents and our law enforcement colleagues for holding these individuals accountable for their criminal actions.”

"Personal greed put the children of BISD at risk, and eroded the public's trust in our system," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner.  "Let today's sentences help restore that trust and remind others that our elected and appointed officials must and will be held accountable at all levels of government.  We cannot do this job alone, and we encourage individuals with information about public corruption to come forward." 

“Today’s sentencings are just one step in the process of holding certain officials accountable for breaching the public’s trust,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Cory Crenshaw.  “Today’s results are another example of the task force’s cooperative - federal, state and local law enforcement - efforts to investigate corruption within the BISD.   Our mission, of identifying those who have failed to uphold their duty to the children of this community by committing fraud, will continue.  Those who have committed crimes will be punished, and confidence in our school district will be rebuilt.”

McCraney and Allison were both ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons unit where they will be assigned by 2:00 pm on Oct. 21, 2014.  McCraney requested a facility close to West Lake, LA.  Allison requested the facility in Bryan/College Station, Texas, as it is the only federal facility housing women in Texas.

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 case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher T. Tortorice and Joseph R. Batte.   

BPD ask help finding fourth suspect in social media rape case
Beaumont detectives are asking the public's help in locating a fourth man wanted in the case of a woman that was sexually assaulted after using social media to solicit prostitution.  They are asking the public's help in find him

Detectives identified the suspect as 18-year-old Paul Layton Singleton, Jr., of Beaumont.

Singleton is one of six men accused of sexually assaulting a Houston area woman after she placed an ad on backpage.com soliciting prostitution.

Detectives allege that during the arranged meeting in Beaumont, the men forced her into a house and sexually assaulted her. Detectives have previously arrested three other men charged with the attack.

Singleton has three outstanding felony warrants, one for aggravated sexual assault, one for aggravated kidnapping, and one for aggravated robbery.
Beaumont police ask anyone who knows Singleton’s whereabouts, to please phone the non-emergency line of the Beaumont 911 Communications Center at 409-832-1234.

People may also leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 409-833-TIPS.

If your information leads to the arrest of Singleton, you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.

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