Charter school head stole from scholarship fund, sentenced to 36 months

Credit: Getty Images.
Credit: Getty Images.

The head of a Philadelphia charter school has been sentenced to up to three years in prison for paying himself tens of thousands of dollars out of a scholarship fund he set up for students, according to the United States’ Attorney’s Office.

Masai Skief, 32, of Philadelphia, had pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud last summer. Skief was the chief executive officer of Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School in West Philadelphia and president and chief administrative officer of Harambee Institute, a non-profit organization to help provide students with educational services and vocational training.

According to officials, Skief withdrew about $9,000 from Harambee’s scholarship fund and used it to purchase a home in Philadelphia. He also took control of Harambee Institute’s bank accounts and further used nearly $80,000 through a series of improper cash withdrawals.

He also tried to conceal the illegal activities by disguising the withdrawals as labor costs. He directed an accountant to create IRS forms to reflect false information. Officials said he asked other to lie for him to federal agents.

Even after Skief pleaded guilty, officials said he continued to steal funds from Harambee Institute upward of $12,000 while he awaited sentencing.

Skief has been sentenced to 36 months in prison and must pay restitution of $88,000, a $200 special assessment and have three years’ of supervised release. During that time, he is not permitted to work in an administrative capacity at any school.


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