A Philadelphia-area attorney and accountant was convicted of embezzlement this week for running a charter school scam that also brought down the scion of one of Philly's formerly most powerful political families.
David T. Shulick was convicted by a jury in federal court on May 7 of embezzling some $800,000 from the School District of Philadelphia using a charter school he ran, intended to help at-risk students. Instead, Shulick, with the aid of Chaka Fattah Jr., falsified paperwork and faked student enrollments to inflate the budget of a school and enrich themselves, federal prosecutors said.
Fattah Jr. previously got a sentence of five years prison time in 2016 for charges related to the Delaware Valley High School (DVHS) scam, after a trial at which he represented himself.
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His father, ex-Philly Congressman Chaka Fattah, was later convicted of corruption a year later for an unrelated campaign fundraising scam/fraud and got a 10-year sentence in prison.
During his trial, Fattah Jr. laid all the blame for misuse of funds at on Shulick's shoulders. But in fact, federal prosecutors revealed they got the information to indict Fattah Jr. when he attempted to inform federal authorities about the inner workings of Shulick's scam, in what was allegedly an attempt to sideline his employer and set up a similar school scam himself.
Evidence at trial showed that DVHS hired Fattah Jr. as a consultant to meet a state requirement for 10 percent of the contract to be awarded to a minority business. From 2014-15, the school got some $2.1 million in funding from the School District, and Fattah Jr. was reportedly earning roughly $75,000 annually. Shulick was also convicted of conspiring with Fattah Jr. to perpetrate the fraud.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain said Shulick got the funding by "promising to provide at-risk students with a level of guidance counseling for their needs, psychological support services, and school security," with a "decent wage" for teachers.
"He flagrantly broke all these promises," McSwain said in a statement. "Instead, he took money specifically allocated for these laudable purposes and spent it selfishly on himself."
DVHS reportedly falsified paperwork reporting the numbers of students and employees they had to get more taxpayer money, but Shulick and Fattah Jr. used the money to enrich themselves. Federal prosecutors said Shulick faked business expenses to cheat on taxes and listed nannies and housekeepers as employees of the school, while using the profits to renovate his vacation home on the Shore and installing a $9,000 set of speakers in his Gladwyne home
"He used his business like a personal piggy bank and a pass- through to hide his income and expenses from the IRS,"McSwain said. "When it comes to education, my office has zero tolerance for fraud."
Shulick could face prison time at sentencing and is expected to be ordered to pay significant restitution to the School District.