|P E Y T O N W O L C O T T
| H o w w e t a k e b a c k o u r c h i l d r e n ' s e d u c a t i o n -- o n e p e r s o n , o n e q u e s t i o n , o n e s c h o o l a t a t i m e . Copyright 1999-2008 Peyton Wolcott
|Bremond ISD's former supe J. Kenneth ("Kenny") Johnson, Sr. and the two families who held him
accountable despite little or no help from 24 local, state & federal agencies and offices
|#2 Trial: PLEA
Questions re former
Bremond ISD supe
By Peyton Wolcott - 06.26.06/2 am
|$800,000 is still missing
Bremond ISD? There are
regarding Johnson's exact
employment status which
appear to echo the case
cited at bottom of this page
regarding Elizabeth School
District supe Bruce Bartlett
who is serving six years in
prison for telling his board
he was earning one salary
while paying himself
another (more)--and there
were no issues with Bartlett
missing, or credit card
charges in Hawaii and
Arizona. And using the
same logic, why should
82nd Judicial District Judge
Robert Stem agree to such
|The Yezak's and the Gadbois' started with
the basics: Why when Bremond ISD was
one of Texas' wealthiest districts (thanks to
a local power plant) were its students not
receiving commensurate educations.
So the two families asked to see Bremond
ISD's most recent audit, which, once they
finally received it, raised more questions.
Along with most casual bystanders,
parents and taxpayers make an erroneous
assumption regarding public education at
the local level. They think someone in
charge is looking out. They think those
state and federal agencies with the
important-sounding names are actually
looking out for their kids, looking out for
things financial. You know, looking out.
|Why would Kenny Johnson be using
Bremond ISD's credit cards at WalMarts
in Arizona, Iowa--and Hawaii?
PROVISO: I'm a big fan of WalMart. When we moved to
the country, our neighbors told us, "If you can't find it at
WalMart you probably don't need it," and they were right.
However, I am very puzzled as to why a Bremond, Texas
school superintendent ran up $22,230.89 worth of
charges on his Bremond ISD credit cards, including
WalMarts in Hawaii (Kaille Kona, $109.94) and Arizona
(Phoenix, $82.75). Oh, and Iowa (Corydon, $53.04). Not
to mention Texas charges in Austin and San Antonio and
|What was Kenny Johnson's employment
status May-Oct. 2003?
To say Johnson's exact status with BISD for the last
months of his tenure is unclear is generous. Further, the
January 2004 audit found Johnson had been paid
$348,639.44 versus the $307,921 amount stipulated in
his employment contract. (More below in dark pink box.)
There is a general ledger entry for Sept. 14, 2003
showing a $5,000 appropriation out of code 701 (the
supes' code) for "professional services."
Further muddying the salary waters is the auditors' finding
that Johnson retired in mid-May 2003 from Bremond
ISD--earlier than some officials' understanding that his
retirement date was July, and that he continued working
at the district as a JR3 employee (JR3 Education
Associates, LP), as a "retire/rehire." JR3 has not
responded to queries regarding his status at BISD as
Superintendent Johnson himself responded (on Sept. 25,
2003) to a public records request for his contracts (dated
Sept. 10) by forwarding some "Multiple-Year Term
Contracts" with the last one dated April 16, 2003 and the
amount only as "4% salary increase" in addition to perqs.
He furnished no JR3 employment contracts.
|Hudson Anderson BIDS audit
Bremond ISD's long-time auditors Hudson Anderson of
Corsicana reported in January 2004 that Kenneth
Johnson had $137,525.56 in "questionable expenditure"
and $137,344.75 in "reimbursable expenditure" for the
period Jan. 1999 through Aug. 31, 2003--only four years of
Johnson's ten years at the helm of the district.
This means that Johnson charged $275,000 on
Bremond ISD credit cards in just over four years,
charges that were considered by the auditors either
questionable or reimbursable.
It should be remembered that as most BISD business
records disappeared from the district the same week
Johnson resigned, the auditors experienced difficulty
conducting this audit.
JIM JAMES: James is
only on the "over
$100,000 and under
indicated in the State
Johnson's plea deadline
is Monday, June 26 at
9:30 a.m. in the
courthouse in Franklin,
|FEDERAL BUREAU OF
WACO FIELD OFFICE -
SPECIAL AGENT LESLIE (LES)
When Robert Gadbois contacted
the FBI during the fall of 2003,
Ledger told him the FBI didn't get
involved until the Texas Rangers
were ready for them, and that the
Rangers did all the legwork for the
STATUS: As of June 21, 2006
the FBI does not show Bremond
ISD on their case list.
Perry was the first cc
on the State Auditor's
Office report on
Bremond ISD dated
Sept. 23, 2005.
|OFFICE OF THE
"Attorney General Greg
Abbott is the lawyer for
the people of Texas and is
charged by the Texas
Constitution to: defend the
laws and the Constitution
of the State of Texas
represent the State in
STATUS: No response,
no follow up.
|U.S. DEP'T OF
Sanchez traveled to
Bremond in Oct.
2005 to meet with the
contacted this week
"We're not allowed to
asked about BISD's
TIF grant application
the Bremond moms
had given her last
October, she said,
"We're not allowed to
Although it's been
eight months since
she and Sanchez
came to Bremond
neither has followed
up in any way
their promise to
return the materials
the moms gave them
This week: "How
we operate is we
don't discuss any
When I asked
whether it could be
possible that the
USDOE was no
working on this case
and was preparing
its report, Grant
repeated that they
(Apparently even if
it's being paid for by
taxpayers, and even
if "ongoing work"
can be construed
only in the most
this as "ongoing
work," an email from
Harold Burns of the
state auditor's office
tells a completely
opposite tale (at right).
|BREMOND ISD'S CURRENT
SUP'T TIM PETERSON
"We've worked with the proper
authorities," he said June 23,
2006, "and we've done what
has been requested, and that's
where we're at."
UPDATE: By Oct. 2006, Tim
was employed by Harmony
Community Schools in his
native Iowa and Bremond ISD
had hired another interim supe.
|Bremond ISD (Robertson County, Texas)
|STATE AUDITOR'S OFFICE
JOHN KEEL, STATE
HAROLD BURNS, SPECIAL
The SAO's Special
Investigations Unit report re
BISD was issued nine months
ago today, long enough to
produce a baby; this report was
addressed to "Members of the
Legislative Audit Committee"
and cc's were Governor Rick
Perry, Texas edu-missioner
Shirley Neeley, Robertson
County DA John Paschall,
special prosecutors Jim James
and Craig Greening, and Texas
Ranger Jim Huggins.
No copies were sent to either
the Bremond ISD board or
superintendent,and no copies
were sent to any of the
parents who began the
investigations. The report only
mentions the special prosecutor's
indictments against Johnson,
including ""theft of $100,000 or
more, but less than $200,000, by
a public servant (a first degree
felony)" and "misapplication of
fiduciary property of $100,000 or
more, but less than $200,000 (a
second degree felony)" along
with the lesser charges against
former BISD business manager
Sandra Nolan, and Johnson's
son Jason. The SAO report
states, "the investigation
revealed that, from 1998 through
2003, Dr. Johnson and Ms.
Nolan allegedly misappropriated
and misapplied BISD funds
totaling more than $158,000."
STATUS: The SAO appears to
now be out of the loop as Burns
did not know about Johnson's
June 5 pre-trial hearing.
|BREMOND ISD AUDITORS
For for 8-10 years BISD's
auditors cited "uncollateralized
deposits at local bank" (First
State Bank of Bremond);
during some of this period
BISD trustee Kenneth Swick
was both president of the
BISD school board and
president of First State Bank
FINDINGS: According to an
audit approved on Nov. 6,
2003 by Kenneth Swick as
BISD board president, the
dozen specific areas the
auditors were to examine
3. Depository Contract
12. Cafeteria Deficit
(Continued below, pink
How the USDA could
have become involved:
the district's cafeteria
fund accepted free lunch
money (from the
USDA); according to
district officials, monies
in this account were
commingled with funds
for purchasing food for
the district's sports
once the concession
stand food was sold,
the money did not make
its way back into the
cafeteria fund, hence the
is looking into Bremond
ISD's standing with
them, if any.
HAROLD BURNS EMAIL,
JUNE 5, 2006 TO
"You know way more about
what is happening with the
case than I do. The first I
heard from anyone was last
Thurs. when I got a call from
U.S. Dept. of Ed OIG
Special Agent Susan
Schmidt. She said she
understood that Johnson and
his lawyer were meeting with
the special prosecutors - no
mention of a pre-trial hearing.
Susan said the Feds are
not moving forward with
their case because
Johnson is going to enter
a plea on the State
charges. No idea what has
been worked out as far as
restitution, sentence, etc.
Ranger Huggins had not
heard anything about it until I
called him. We were not
asked to be at the hearing.
Thanks for the information. At
least now I have some dates
to be aware of. I guess I'll
have to get a subscription to
the Bremond paper, so I can
find out what happened. "
FOLLOW UP: This is
interesting in light of the
USDOE's description of the
case's status as "ongoing."
USDOE special agent
Susan Schmidt told
the Bremond moms
during their Oct. 2005
meeting that she'd
contact the EPA re the
status of the location of
some of the district's
STATUS: No further
contact from Schmidt or
|TEXAS DEP'T OF BANKING
|/82nd JUDICIAL DISTRICT
COUNTY & DISTRICT ATT'Y
The Bremond parents filed a
complaint with Paschall's office
on Oct. 22, 2003 "for apparent
violations relative to the timely
and complete release of public
information," saying they had
"made numerous requests" to
BISD for public information, and
that "the District has
consistently failed or refused to
provide the information
requested and has provided no
ruling from the Attorney Generla
stipulating why the information
was withheld." Six weeks
later (Dec. 9, 2003), Paschall
responded that he believed "a
conflict of interest exists that
would preclude the Robertson
County District Attorney's
Office from bringing civil
enforcement litigation against the
B.I.S.D. because such litigation
would hinder the ongoing
criminal investigation" which is
"being conducted by Texas
Ranger, Jim Huggins and the
State Auditor's Office
concerning employees" of
STATUS: Paschall states in
the letter that the Gadbois may
file a complaint with the Office
of the Attorney General, and
cc's Brandy Byrd of the OAG.
FOLLOW-UP: Because of the
conflict of interest, special
prosecutor Jim James was
brought in from Bryan-College
Station to prosecute Kenneth
Johnson and his son.
|Pastoral scene five minutes from Bremond ISD
CAPT. DANBY on investigation by Ranger Sgt.
Jim Huggins: "Our job is to determine if a criminal
offense occurred, and find and present that evidence.
To try to determine the entire amount, that's the job for
the auditors. I don't know whether the recovery of
every penny is a civil matter or a matter for restitution
if the auditors have the ability to reconstruct the bills
and the flow of money. Don't take it that we're not
caring; the plea is the discretion of the prosecutor; this
is the way our justice system is set up. The
prosecutor did not try for a change of venue." Of
Huggins, Danby said, "I am confident in his ability."
SERGEANT HUGGINS to Bremond moms
regarding the disappeared paper records:
"There's not anything that's ever been done on paper
that I can't get a copy of. Don't you worry, I've got it
now. Basically I want you to stop [investigating]. I
can't tell you to stop, I can't ask you to stop, but
we've got it. You could hinder my case."
|FORMER BISD BOARD PRESIDENT KENNETH
SWICK, OTHER TRUSTEES
Voted out of office in May 2004 along with two other
veteran Bremond ISD trustees in favor of two of the
investigating Bremond parents (Pat Yezak and Robert
Gadbois), Swick and fellow trustees did not follow
through during their tenure to investigate any of the
information being uncovered by the Bremond parents,
saying he was guilty of trusting Johnson too much,
and says now he wishes TEA and other agencies
had been more helpful, particularly with the findings of
the district's annual audits.
"Either Dr. Johnson paid off the auditors and they
didn't do their job, or TEA didn't do their job, and the
state board of accountancy said, 'Let's sweep this
under the rug.' "
Swick asks "why didn't the audit firm find 6,000
transactions that Johnson made that were
inappropriate-- and the auditors failed to find any of
them and report them to the board." Swick also takes
issue with TASB's "Team of Eight" board trainings,
pointing out that "one of the primary things told to us
was that the superintendent is a professional, he's
involved, and he's in control, and that you're there to
help him out. I agree there should be a separation of
STATUS: For 8-10 years during Johnson's tenure,
audit finding stated that Bremond ISD funds were
deposited unsecured in the First State Bank of
Bremond--of which Swick was also president.
FOLLOW-UP: In BISD's Aug. 2003 board minutes,
rather than recusing himself, Swick voted for his
bank's own contract. A revote was taken in October
at which time he abstained.
federal money is a
factor this office could
have been involved, it
has not been as the
Texas Rangers did not
ask the U.S. Attorney
to participate, per a
|STATE BOARD FOR
SBEC certification page
only states, "Click here
to go to EDUCATOR
which leads to "Note:
This individual is
currently under review
by the SBEC
Unit." There is no
when the review
began, no statement
regarding the progress
of the review, and no
statement regarding the
cause of the review.
On which salary will
be based? The
$86,000 the board
almost $108,000 that
he actually paid
himself for his last 3
years of employment
Did Johnson report the
extra $22,000 or
whatever amount he
received as income to
the IRS for each of his
last three years? What
about the questionable
credit card expenses?
L AUDITS DIVISION
Fredlund wrote the Bremond
parents on Oct. 2, 2003 that she
was forwarding their concerns
"involving misuse of public
funds and violations of the
Public Information Act" to the
Robertson District Attorney's
Office and to BISD's external
auditors, Hudson Anderson &
Associates, PC "for follow-up
during the 2003-2003 annual
financial audit." Fredlund
continues, "I spoke with Mr.
Frank Marx, III, today
regarding the allegations, and he
assured me that the audit firm
would review and consider this
information while conducting the
fiscal year 2003 annual financial
audit." She concludes, "In
order to avoid duplication of
effort, and due to limited staff,
we are considering this file
closed; however, we will assist
law enforcement if requested.
Thank you for being concerned
|Old Bremond School, now abandoned
When all four Bremond
parents went to the
sheriff, he responded
that he did not have the
funds to become
involved, and the
parents should give the
situation to the Texas
Rangers who had
recently cleaned up
Yezak called in the
Texas Rangers, who
called in Harold Burns
of the State Auditor's
Office, who traveled to
Bremond to investigate,
then produced the Sept.
23, 2005 report (above)
which was not
disclosed to the school
district or its trustees.
|Entrance to old BISD athletic field
|How did Bremond ISD come to have
BISD's former supe James Kenneth Johnson apparently
used a variety of means including district-issued credit
cards to treat himself and his family and some
employees and other district officials to lavish trips and
other entertainment over several years. For example, "in
2001, one credit card collected more than 30 charges in
Hawaii and once was used to collect more than $1,000
of 'game cash' in Las Vegas." (SOURCE--AP) Many other
details are missing because the district's business
records disappeared the same week Johnson resigned
in 2003; he was indicted last fall and is expected to be in
court this Monday for his plea bargain. The missing
$800,000 reflects the mysterious drop in BISD's fund
balance discovered after Johnson's departure.
Perspective: Bremond ISD is a small district in a town
with only 900 people and a county with only 15,000
people; it's only thanks to the local power plant that the
district has any real money.
|HUDSON ANDERSON AUDIT
FINDINGS, cont'd (Jan. 2004)
3. BISD Depository contract [First
Bremond ISD's District Policy BBFA "provides as
follows: "BANK RELATIONS: A trustee who is a
stockholder, officer, director, or employee of a bank
that has bid to become a depository for the District
shall not vote on the awarding of a depository contract
to said bank."
Education Code 45.204: "If a Trustee has a
substantial interest in a bank with which the District is
considering entering into a loan or other transaction
besides a depository contract, then the Trustee must
comply with the affidavit and abstention requirements.
Atty. Gen. Opn. JN-1082 (1989)."
With the two cites in mind, the auditors report: "We
inspected the board minutes from the August 20, 2003
meeting and noted that Mr. Swick [then BISD board
president and also president of First State Bank
of Bremond] voted for the extension of the
depository contract [with First State Bank of
Bremond]. We also reviewed the minutes from the
October 22, 2003 meeting, noting the board again
approved the extension, and Mr. Swick abstained
NOTE: This bank "converted to a state savings bank
under title of First State Bank-Bremond, S.S.B., on
8-01-2004." (SOURCE--Texas Dep't of Banking)
|WILL FORMER BREMOND ISD SUPE
JOHNSON BE ABLE TO WALK AWAY FROM
THE MISSING $800,000?
Kenneth Johnson leaves Franklin courthouse on June
5 after attorney no-showed at pre-trial hearing.
|Nancy Gadbois recollects on her
When we tried to contact the authorities put in place
by the state of Texas, such as the Texas Education
Agency, to report the possible wrongdoings in our
school district we were met with opposition and no
support. Our school district has been cited in their
audits for the past eight to ten years for unsecured
funds in the bank yet to my knowledge not one
agency has ever followed up to see if anything had
ever been corrected.
|LETTERS FROM MAURICE & PAT YEZAK AND ROBERT & NANCY
GADBOIS TO THEIR U.S. SENATORS, KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON AND
JOHN CORNYN, AND CONGRESSMAN CHET EDWARDS REQUESTING A
CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRY/HEARING [EX. CORNYN]
After almost three years of waiting, it appears that Dr. Kenneth Johnson, former
superintendent of Bremond ISD, is going to agree to a plea bargain for his part in the
theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from our school district on Monday, June 26,
2006 in Robertson County 82nd District Court with Honorable Judge Stem presiding.
The “unofficial word” is that the plea includes a 5- year prison term and restitution of an
additional $70,000. (He has paid back $130,000 to date)
Please allow me to share a bit of history. We, Robert and Nancy Gadbois, and friends,
Patricia and Maurice Yezak, began making open records requests to our school district
administration in the summer of 2003. Bremond is a small district of about 450
students. The Board of Trustees had just approved a $7.9M budget on revenue
projections of $4.3M. The State’s AEIS reports indicated spending of more than $14,000
per student. Rumors of exotic vacations by our superintendent were floating around
along with a number of other interesting allegations.
Here is a small sample of what our open records requests appeared to reveal:
Dr. Johnson paid himself an additional $20,000 in salary.
Dr. Johnson also wrote himself checks each month that averaged $1,000.
Dr. Johnson used district credit cards for hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal
expenses, including trips to Las Vegas, New York, Hawaii, Jamaica, Cancun and
elsewhere. Charges included tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry, sports
memorabilia and clothing. A review of all of the charges is sickening.
Dr. Johnson placed two of his sons on the district’s payroll and enrolled them in the
district benefit plans, though neither of them worked or even lived in the district.
Dr. Johnson used district checks to pay for personal expenses, including groceries,
insurance, utilities, medical care, travel, building supplies, vehicle repairs, and the list
After our discovery, we turned over our documents to the TEA. The TEA informed us
that they did not have the manpower to pursue it and in turn forwarded the
information to the State Auditor and the local District Attorney. The local District
Attorney would not pursue it as he had a conflict of interest. The local sheriff also
said he did not have the manpower and put us in contact with Texas Ranger, Mr. Jim
Huggins. We contacted the FBI, and were told that we really needed to just stick with
A “special audit” commissioned by the Board of Trustees confirmed our findings. This
was not a forensic audit. Unfortunately, the audit consisted of reviewing the
documents we had already discovered. The auditor simply interviewed Dr. Johnson
and with our list of charges in hand let him choose what he felt he was responsible
for. Of almost $500,000 in American Express and US Bank credit card charges over
4 years, Dr. Johnson claimed responsibility for $190,000. However, over $200,000 fell
into the “unknown” category. The audit did not include a review of checks written over
the same 4 years or credit cards such as Texaco, Wal-Mart and Lowes. All files and
receipts that could have been used to prove the misuse of funds were shredded or
removed prior to and after Dr. Johnson’s resignation.
Now let me explain the reason for our letter. Mr. Cornyn, we are being told by the special
prosecutor “all he needs is $100,000” and he’s got a 1st degree felony. He has also
stated that the county doesn’t have the resources to investigate all of the allegations.
Therefore, we should be happy with the plea bargain.
Mr. Cornyn, since Dr. Johnson’s resignation, the district’s expenditures have dropped
from an average of $500,000 per month to an average of $350,000, well over $1M per
year. Virtually all of the district’s financial records, prior to Dr. Johnson’s departure, have
been destroyed. Accordingly, we have little evidence of what the money was spent on.
We have some idea, based on the credit card statements we’ve seen. The district has
had to rebuild its budget based on bank statements and personnel files.
We were led to believe that law enforcement would use their subpoena power to find the
extent of the misuse of funds. Now we know that they simply took what we found, took
what Dr. Johnson claimed responsibility for and ran with it.
We do know that our cafeteria was showing a loss of well over $100,000 per year prior
to Dr. Johnson’s resignation. We know that food for our concession stand was paid for
with cafeteria funds. We know that we receive about $10,000 per month in federal aid
for our free and reduced lunch program. Our federal funds were not kept separate from
our local, state and county funds. These funds were deposited together in the Local,
State and County account. We were told at one point by the Department of Education,
Office of the Inspector General, that if Dr. Johnson commingled the funds that it was a
federal offense. Now we find that, from a federal perspective, the case is not “sexy
Mr. Cornyn, the district is out hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. Each and
every governmental agency we’ve turned to have either passed the buck or claimed that
due to limited resources won’t pursue the investigation to the full extent. So we’re left
with an individual that raped this small community, facing only possible probation, and
forced to pay back a small portion of what he appeared to steal.
We are asking for your assistance in engaging federal and perhaps even local law
enforcement to reassess our situation. Unless individuals like Dr. Johnson are
investigated and punished to the fullest extent, this type of misuse of public funds will
continue to destroy our education system. We would even be willing to participate in a
Congressional Hearing to discuss the challenges and barriers we’ve had to overcome
in our search for information and in our effort to expose the wrongdoing in Bremond. I
know we’re not alone.
Your assistance in helping us to seek justice would be sincerely appreciated. Thank
you in advance for your consideration.
Robert and Nancy Gadbois Maurice and Patricia Yezak
|HUDSON ANDERSON AUDIT
FINDINGS, cont'd (Jan. 2004)
6. Superintendent Compensation.
"We analyzed all contracts for the superintendent to
determine the basis of his District approved compensation.
Contracts for fiscal year 1995 and fiscal year 1999 were
originally unable to be located. Fiscal year 1999 was
subsequently found by the business manager. The
contracts contained typed-in information, and the fiscal year
1999 contract reported an 8.5% increase. Normal
increases during his tenure wee 3% to 5% annually.
Payroll records reflect that beginning in February 2000, Dr.
Johnson began receiving immediate increases for the
upcoming contract year dated to be effective in July. In
February 2001, Dr. Johnson received a 7% increase;
however, the upcoming contract had authorized a 4%
increase effective in July. As a District employee during
the period analyzed [years ended 2000-2003], Dr.
Johnson's contracts totaled $307,921. Per payroll records,
the actual amount paid during this period was $348,639.44.
The total overpayment based on these records is
"During the period May 16, 2003 through August 31, 2003,
Dr. Johnson was paid through JR3 Education Associates,
LP, with reimbursements to JR3 from the District. During
that period his compensation agreement was not
agreed to in written form. Per inquiry of [then-BISD
board president] Mr. Swick, the District's understanding of
his compensation was that no benefits would be paid, with
gross compensation totaling the same as his last contract
amount before termination. Based on these amounts, Dr.
Johnson's compensation package for the three and one half
month period should have been $24,236.63. During this
period, his actual compensation totaled $34,117.92. The
total overpayment based on these records is
"The superintendent and business manager did not adhere
to proper internal control procedures during the processing
of these transactions."
|HUDSON ANDERSON AUDIT
FINDINGS, cont'd (Jan. 2004)
12. Cafeteria Deficit.
We analyzed expenditures for the cafeteria and inquired of
cafeteria personnal, and noted no apparent personal use of
District food products by the superintendent's wife [who
was still cafeteria manager at the time of the questioning].
|NANCY GADBOIS STATEMENT:
As far as we know, Jim James got his
information from the State Auditor and
the Ranger. We compared the special
audit numbers with the numbers we had
from our open records requests. In
comparison, it appears Dr. Johnson’s
indictment charge totals are close the
information we had already provided and
not more. Since I don’t have access to
the same information the State Auditor
and the Texas Ranger have, I can only
speculate. The special audit notes
$137,525.56 in questionable
expenditures and $137,344.75 in
reimbursable expenditures. Were these
“questionable expenditures” ever
investigated? I don’t know but added
together it totals more than $200,000.
The special audit did not include
information obtained later such as Wal-
Mart statements which show charges in
other states such as Hawaii. The audit
also failed to investigate an endless
string of checks signed by Dr. Johnson
and Sandra Nolan.
I would like to express
my personal and
heartfelt gratitude to
the Bremond parents
(Maurice and Pat Yezak,
and Robert and Nancy
Gadbois) for sharing the
public records they
obtained through their
requests, making them
available to all, and for
their generosity of spirit
in sharing this
information for the
FROM TEAM OF EIGHT
TO TEAM OF ONE
Former Bremond ISD supe Kenneth Johnson leaving
courtroom after June 5, 2006 pre-trial hearing
in Franklin, Texas.
Neither Kenneth Swick nor any of former
superintendent Kenny Johnson's "Team of Eight"
members made it to the pre-trial or to the
trial and sentencing.
|QUESTION: Was James misquoted? Did James
actually mean to tell the reporter that if the burglar says
"Here's one-fifth of your TV back" then he gets off on an
easy plea deal? Getting to keep four-fifths of the TV
doesn't sound like Bremond taxpayers are being well
served by the judicial system, small-town,
small-potatoes or not. Like I always say, not many of us
write that many $800,000.00 checks out of our personal
accounts each day of the week.
QUESTION: Under former supe Kenneth Johnson,
Bremond ISD's cafeteria operation was losing
$70,000-80,000 per year because apparently they were
buying all concession stand supplies (for football games
and other sports) through the cafeteria but never
reimbursing the cafeteria once the food was sold.
Because the cafeteria received federal so-called free
lunch funds, wouldn't this be a clear case for the feds
thanks to the commingling?
|Relevant examples of school personnel facing and serving time,
other penalties for embezzling far lesser amounts than the
$800,000 missing under former Bremond ISD supe
Johnson's watch; date of this study: 2006
manager at Boone
School District (IA),
pleaded guilty on
Monday to a felony
charge of theft. The
charge comes in
connection with the
$15,000 in school
district funds. A
Heath to over
from the time of his
hiring in 1997 until
November of 2005.
Heath faces up to
10 years in prison
and a $10,000 fine.
has confessed to
$37,000 from her
by altering payee
names on checks.
expected to be
filed next week.
|Former Elizabeth School
District (CO) supe Bruce
Bartlett (above) is serving six
years in prison for telling his
board he was receiving $123,000
per year salary but actually paying
himself $166,632. (PHOTO/KCNC)
How the story broke
"Jack Dixon, a local mortgage
broker, became curious and did
some rooting around in the
district’s financial records. He
asked to see the employment
contracts for Bartlett and Munsey,
but was initially told to get lost.
When it became apparent to the
board members that they were
going to be on the losing end of
an embarrassing Public Records
lawsuit, Dixon was finally shown
a copy of each contract. At a
subsequent board meeting,
Dixon revealed that Bartlett and
Munsey had actually been paying
themselves $190,000 and
$120,000 respectively. The
shocking revelation about
salaries sparked a complete
examination of the district’s
financial records, uncovering a
$2.25 million shortfall."
|Former San Jose (CA)
Barbara Jo Price (above)
Weekly) was sentenced last
December to three years in
state prison "for embezzling
more than $480,000 from the
school's student activity fund
from 1998 until January of
this year. Barbara Jo Price,
44, worked at Bret Harte
Middle School in San Jose's
tony Almaden Valley
neighborhood for 12 years
until district auditors
embezzlement in January.
In addition to her prison
sentence, Price was ordered
to pay more than $700,000 in
restitution although Santa
Clara County Deputy District
Attorney John Chase does
not know how much of the
embezzled funds will actually
be recovered. 'This was
stolen over a long period of
time, beginning in 1998, so
most likely it's been spent,'
Chase said. Price has been
in custody since June.
NOTE: Price is currently
serving her time in Elmwood
Correctional Center for
Women in Milpitas, California.
|Bartlett's too-trusting and/or complicit school board
"An investigation by the school district prompted by a
News 4 investigation revealed inflated salaries,
reckless money management and questionable credit
card and cell-phone charges all undetected by a
trusting school board." (SOURCE--KCNC TV) "At the
sentencing, the Judge directed some particularly
harsh words toward the members of the school board
for their failure to detect the ongoing fraud and their
obvious practice of blindly rubberstamping everything
which came before them." (SOURCE--Cheyenne Herald)
How we take back our children's education:
one person, one question, one school at a time.
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|Copyright 1999-2008 Peyton Wolcott - All rights reserved
|Bremond ISD's Kenny Johnson update, August 2008:
Superintendent James Kenneth ("Kenny") Johnson, Sr.'s journey
from earning an education doctorate at Texas A&M to a stint as
Bremond ISD superintendent included taxpayer-funded trips to
Cabo, Hawaii and jewelry stores; these aspects of his journey
landed him in the Robertson County Courthouse two summers
ago. He next resided in state prison from 2006 to 2008 where he
collected his TRS retirement, the amount based on salary fig-
ures he himself claimed; having served his debt to society,
Kenny has been released from prison and will be on probation
until 2011, all the while continuing to collect his TRS.
|Nancy Gadbois (L) and Pat Yezak (R)
Robertson County Courthouse - 2006
|Bremond ISD parents update,
Nancy and Robert Gadbois and Pat
and Maurice Yezak started asking
questions four years ago then filed
their first Texas Public Information Act
request for a copy of the district's
budget. Robert Gadbois and Pat Yezak
each served on the BISD board; both
couples still live in Bremond where
their children still go to school.
|MONTHS & YEARS OF
|24 LOCAL, STATE & FEDERAL AGENCIES
AND ENTITIES INVOLVED (as of June 2006)
|What kind of local culture would allow the
district to deposit its funds unsecured in
the then-BISD board president's bank?
Why were BISD funds deposited unsecured in the bank --
CORNYN & KAY
The Bremond parents
have requested a
hearing from each of
these three to look into
the missing $800,000
among other amounts.
|In 2003, in Bremond ISD (population:
876), Pat Yezak and Nancy Gadbois,
|"a couple of curious, stay-at-home moms in
this rural community, used the state's open
records law to find out how their school tax
dollars were being spent. They got more
than they bargained for: the indictment of
the former superintendent, one of his sons,
and the district's former business manager
on theft charges." (SOURCE--Diane Jennings/Dallas
|Bremond ISD is a small
(450 students) district in
central Texas considered
property rich thanks to a
power plant within its
Johnson's leadership the
district's expenses were in
range per month and
according to district
officials dropped to
$350,000 the day he left.
Johnson was indicted last
fall for theft and
misapplication of fiduciary
funds charges including
use of district credit cards
to pay for jewelry, alcohol
and vacations to Hawaii,
Cancun and California.
James told the Waco
Witherspoon last year that
"Johnson has paid back a
portion of what he
supposedly stole, but that
doesn't erase the crime. 'If
you catch a burglar in your
house and he says, 'I'm
sorry, here's your TV back,'
that doesn't undo what's
been done.' "
|#1 Pre-Trial (06.05.06)
If everything former superintendent Kenny
Johnson did while he was running
Bremond ISD was on the up and up, why
did he cover his face with his hand when
leaving the courthouse after his
preliminary hearing? The next time he left
the courthouse -- later that month -- it was
in handcuffs, on the way to prison (photo
|Where was the FBI?
o Why didn't the FBI investigate the fed funds?
o Why didn't the FBI investigate the missing financial
paper records and computers that disappeared from
BISD the week after Kenny resigned?
|08.07.08 UPDATE RE
KENNETH SWICK'S BANK:
This is interesting: The First State
Bank of Bremond has a new
name, "First Star Bank SSB," as
of August 1, 2004. And as of
today, according to Texas
Comptroller Susan Combs, First
Star Bank SSB "had a recent filing
deadline and as of this date, August
7, 2008, the taxable entity's account
status has not yet been updated."
Additionally, there is no officers and
directors information on file.
|then known as First State
Bank of Bremond -- of which
Kenneth Swick, the
then-BISD board president,
was also the bank
And why were Bremond
ISD's funds allowed to stay
unsecured at FSBB for 8-10
years of Kenny Johnson's
tenure as BISD
superintendent, after audit
findings stated that Bremond
ISD funds were dep-osited
unsecured in the First State
Bank of Bremond?
|Where's the missing $800,000 fund
balance -- and BISD's paper financial
What happened to the $800,000 of Bremond ISD's fund
balance that disappeared when Kenny Johnson resigned
from BISD? Where did Kenny deposit it? There are many
rumors about what happened to the district's paper
financial records including first-hand eyewitness reports
of seeing large black plastic trash bags leave the admini-
stration building under unusual if not odd circumstances.
|First State Bank of Bremond -- now First Star Bank, SSB
|Kenny Johnson leaving Robertson County
Courthouse after pre-trial hearing, June 5, 2006.
cutor Jim James
Johnson a plea
deal this morn-
ning given that
to 5 years in prison;
By Peyton Wolcott - June 26, 2006
|Robertson County Courthouse
The correct response to this is, in a word, hah.
Among the questions they began asking -- many of which
are still unanswered:
|Three years after Bremond
ISD parents Maurice and Pat
Yezak and Robert and Nancy
Gadbois began asking
questions and eventually
filing public records requests
under the Texas Public Infor-
mation Act in order to learn
more about their school
district's finances-- inspired
by rumors of lavish trips and
meals by district personnel--
their former superintendent,
James Kenneth Johnson,
was brought to justice and
sentenced this morning to
five years in prison by 82nd
Judicial District Judge
Johnson's first stop:
According to law enforce-
ment officials, Johnson's
first stop will be prison in
Huntsville for processing
and observation, most
likely a one- to two-week
|Kenny Johnson leaving
courtroom in handcuffs
|June 26, 2006 statement by
Robert & Nancy Gadbois:
We were led to believe early on in
the investigation that law
enforcement would use their
subpoena power to find the extent
of the misuse of funds. In spite of
everything we found, we now
know they simply took what Dr.
Johnson claimed responsibility for
and ran with it.
The district is out hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Each and
every governmental agency we’
ve turned to have either passed
the buck or claimed that due to
limited resources they would not
pursue the investigation to the full
It appears no further investigation
was pursued even though more
evidence existed such as credit
card statements from WalMart,
Lowes and Texaco and at least
four years of checks.
We are pleased Dr. Johnson will
serve time in prison. We are
disappointed in local, state and
federal authorities for not
investigating all the leads we
|Kenny Johnson still in handcuffs
en route to prison from court
|#3: PRISON - Huntsville (2006-08)
|#4 - TODAY - Summer 2008
|Kenneth Johnson served less than two years of a five
year sentence; he has been released from prison and is
again at liberty -- and collecting his taxpayer-funded TRS
retirement, which is based on income he himself declared.
The $800,000 is still missing from Bremond ISD.
Reportedly, Bremond ISD's former superintendent is living
in reduced circumstances.
|Track coach investigated after team lock-in
posted by: Dan Boniface
written by: Nelson Garcia
9 News.com March 9, 2008
ELIZABETH – It was supposed to be a bonding experience, at Elizabeth High School,
when 40 boys and girls from the track team spent the night in the school. Instead, when
it was all over, the track coach resigned his position and was placed on paid
administrative leave from his teaching job.
District director of instruction and future superintendent Paul Dellacroce is in the middle
of an investigation into violations of school guidelines and says he is taking the incident
very seriously, acting quickly to uncover what happened the night of February 22nd at the
"The sponsor allowed students to have boxing," said Dellacroce.
Dellacroce says the track coach, identified on the school Web site as Carl Olson,
allowed students to fight each other wearing boxing gloves and allowed them to use
Airsoft pellet guns shooting at each other inside the school.
"The sponsor allowed those, they weren't snuck in by the students. They were allowed in
by the sponsor where they were used at school," said Dellacroce. "That is an expellable
offense for students. However, we are not gonna expel students for being given
permission by a sponsor."
Dellacroce says the track coach did not provide separate areas for boys and girls to
sleep. He says some students also had alcohol and were drinking inside the school.
"The sponsor was not aware of that," said Dellacroce.
This is a town that's been frustrated with the district. Parents Bob and Karen Tackwell
say people have become disgruntled after former Superintendent Bruce Bartlett and
former Chief Financial Officer Nancie Munsey embezzled more than $120,000 between
2000 and 2002. Then, last year, teacher Darcie Esson was charged with having sex with
a student – and now this.
"That's more of my frustration is where we've heard it from is the kids," said Bob
Tackwell. "We don't have any letters home from school yet."
The Tackwells have two kids at Elizabeth High; neither is on the track team. They say
they've been working with the district to find ways to solve problems and avoid issues
like the lack of supervision at the track team lock-in.
"Putting boys and girls together and not enough supervision, I think the school district
has to evaluate what they're doing when they set up one of these functions," said Bob
Karen says not enough parents are involved in district activities and that may have been
a factor that night.
"It is troubling to me. It's also troubling to me that if parents were going to let their
children be involved maybe they should be there to help things be more supervised,"
said Karen Tackwell.
The Tackwells say they've been meeting regularly with the Elizabeth High School
principal to discuss how to get more parents involved and how they can help.
"He's wanting to make a change, but he's gonna need a little bit of support," said Bob
Dellacroce says this is not something the district needed.
"For me personally, it is very troubling cause we try to do positive things for our students
and we don't want this to end, these types of activities to end," said Dellacroce. "You
know that is a concern what image we're putting forward."
The investigation is supposed to wrap up this week.
Though he resigned his position as coach, Olson is also a social studies teacher at
Elizabeth Middle School and is currently on paid administrative leave until the district
decides what to do with him.
Dellacroce says the students who brought the alcohol may be punished, but the ones
involved in the boxing and who had pellet guns will not since they were given permission
by the coach. He says no students were injured.
The Tackwells hope the community can rally around this latest incident and turn things
around for the Elizabeth School District.
"With the parents help and the kids help, we can all become that strong community
again, we just need to get it together," said Bob Tackwell.
|Elizabeth School District's problems continue - 6 years later