In a bold betrayal, two California school district employees have confessed to being involved in an elaborate scheme to defraud the school district of approximately $1.8 million. This criminal enterprise illegally allocated resources for covert operations to mine cryptocurrencies.
Jeffrey Menzi, who served as chief business officer in addition to his assistant superintendent position in the Paterson Unified School District, along with Eric Dravert, the district’s IT director, are accused of stealing federal program-supported funds. He entered a guilty plea. Activities. This admission came after a thorough investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The plan was rolled out in an administrative capacity with Mr. Menge’s authority to appoint Drabart as IT director in 2020. From there, they engaged in a concerted effort to deplete the district’s coffers. The fraudulent transactions were conducted using CenCal Tech LLC, a company controlled by Mr. Menge, under the guise of a legitimate business. Menzi cleverly concealed his involvement by inventing a non-existent executive named “Frank Burns” as the face of CenCal Tech.
Their fraudulent transactions amounted to more than $1.2 million and were characterized by duplicate billing, inflated billing, and billing for items that were not provided. The Justice Department paints a picture of a calculated fraud rife with double dealing and deception.
But their criminal ambitions went beyond simple embezzlement. The Justice Department’s findings show that Menge and Dravert also appropriated school district resources, such as advanced graphics cards and electricity, to establish an on-site cryptocurrency mining operation. The illegally obtained digital currency was funneled into wallets under their control. Additional abuses included Mr. Menge’s misuse of district-owned vehicles, including Mr. Menge’s purchase of Chevrolet trucks at significantly lower prices and selling them for personal gain, and his personal deployment of Ford Transit vans. It is said that
The amounts stolen were large: Menge misappropriated between $1 million and $1.5 million, while Drabart misappropriated between $250,000 and $300,000. The Justice Department detailed that these stolen wealth were squandered on personal luxuries. Menge renovated his home, splurged on luxury cars, including a Ferrari, and financed various other personal projects. Drabat was similarly extravagant, using stolen funds to renovate his vacation home and cover personal expenses.
This case exposes the egregious exploitation of public funds by trusted officials in the Paterson Consolidated School District and exposes the depth of corruption and greed in a school that was supposed to be a bastion of learning and community service. The cryptocurrency market itself, often associated with innovative financial strategies, has become a means of clandestine mining operations and private wealth at the expense of public trust and federal funding intended for education. .