|Updated: 7/13/2011 6:51 pm
||Published: 7/13/2011 11:49 am
Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris dismissed grand jury indictments and charged former Skiatook Public Schools Superintendent Gary Johnson with four counts of accepting a bribe as a public official Wednesday morning. Johnson pleaded guilty to all four counts.
Harris also filed four charges of bribing a public official against Oklahoma City area businessman Rick Enos, for allegedly offering Johnson at least $10,000 in bribes in 2008. Harris says Johnson admitted to numerous other times when Enos gave him money adding up to a total of $18,800. But Harris was unable to bring charges for those other incidents because they happened in Norman, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Seattle, Washington.
On top of accepting Enos' bribes, Harris says Johnson bought overpriced janitorial and security supplies from Enos' business, E&E sales, for Skiatook Public Schools. Harris says the supplies were priced double, triple, and sometimes even four times market value. He estimates Johnson and the District overpaid for the goods by as much $300- to $500 thousand dollars.
Parents in Skiatook say they're glad Johnson finally came clean about what he did, but they're still outraged that so much money was wasted.
"He made it very difficult for our kids to get the education they should have been getting," Skiatook resident Diana Stewart said.
Stewart sent her kids to Skiatook Public Schools, and now her grandkids, too. She says she's upset it took Johnson so long to admit what he did.
"It makes me very angry, because there are so many things the teachers need, and they're doing all this with no money that could have been going to the teachers and the schools and the activities for the children," Stewart said.
Though it's been awhile since news of the bribes came out, Kimberly Kitchens says it's just as hurtful to her and the Skiatook community today as it was then.
"He took money that could have been used for kids' education, and that's pretty important," Kitchens said. "The kids are our future."
Stewart says the fact the District has been getting less funding and working in a tighter budget because of the economy makes it even more frustrating that a chunk of the money they had was wasted.
"He hurt every child in Skiatook, and every teacher trying to do their jobs with less money," Stewart said.
Rick Thomas took over as the new Superintendent in Skiatook just a few weeks ago, and he's already facing the problems Johnson caused head on.
"We're ready to get back to just educating kids," he said.
Thomas says he's aware of how difficult it's going to be and how much time it's going to take for the District to regain the community's trust, but he's ready for the challenge.
"I think it's good, because I think it's gonna kind of close this chapter."
Stewart and Kitchens say they're ready to give the new administration a chance, but they'll never forgive Gary Johnson for what he did.
"The public had a trust in him when they hired him," Stewart said. "I hope he gets a really big sentence."
Johnson is not expected to be sentenced until October, but could face no more than 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each of the four counts.
Rick Enos also faces four charges of bribing a public official.
Harris said the investigation is ongoing, and his office is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office. He says it's possible both men could eventually face more charges for bribes arranged outside his jurisdiction.