Probe into TPS Athletic Department

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Updated: 2/16/2012 9:19 am Published: 2/15/2012 3:52 pm

An official probe into allegations of embezzlement and financial misconduct is underway in the Tulsa Public Schools Athletic Department.

Former TPS Athletic Director Stephanie Spring and her assistant Jon Wheeler already resigned last month after
e-mail hacking allegations.

Tulsa’s County’s top prosecutor says once TPS Police finishes the investigation he wants Tulsa police financial crimes detectives to look into the case as well.

"I am not trying to control the investigation,” says Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris.

He says with a complex case he wants as many eyes on the case before it makes it to his desk.

In schools, typical investigations center around kids, drugs, inappropriate relationships and possible bullying.

However, this case is not typical and more complex. The probe involves administrators and accusations of misusing school money and computer hacking. A coach who was fired has been raising questions and went to FOX23 News in January.

"Where is that money and how much was it? What is to be "quiet" about? What is there to be quiet about?" asked Scottware Patton.

In a FOX23 News interview in January, Patton said he coached next to Travis Hill at East Central High School for several years.

Hill resigned in December, 2011, around the same time Spring was accused of hacking into her secretary’s e-mail.

The TPS Police Chief confirms the investigation was widened and since October, 2011, investigators have been looking into potential financial corruption.

Their findings could eventually wind up on the Tulsa County District Attorney’s desk.

"Everybody works hard and we pay our taxes and when you think your tax money ought to appropriated the way it is supposed to be under law. It moves to high priority because who pays tax dollars? All of us,” said Harris.

Patton is not surprised. He claims schools officials rented a football field to a little league team and pocketed the money.

"I knew something was up right then,” said Patton in the January interview.

It’s these types of allegations that have surfaced.

That’s why the D.A. says before the investigations gets to his desk he wants some expertise. 

"If you are going to ask me what I think is best before it ends up in my lap to analyze I want increased and effectiveness based on good information and good investigative techniques all together before we have to look at it,” says Harris.

Last month, after the scandal surfaced, TPS employees went through an ethics training with an emphasis on financial crimes.

No criminal charges have been filed.

In August, 2011, Athletic Department secretary Cheryl Murphy claimed her personal e-mails were hacked.

On November 15th, 2011, Athletic Director Stephanie Spring and Assistant Athletic Directors John Wheeler and Trish Pruitt were suspended with pay.

Pruitt was reinstated but Wheeler and Spring both resigned in January, 2012.

Spring’s resignation was effective February, 7th.

Tulsa Public Schools released this statement about the investigation:

"In response to recent inquiries and reports in the media, TPS can confirm that it has been conducting an ongoing internal investigation of activities within the Athletic Department. The focus of the investigation is related to allegations of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. Given the complexity of the subject matter and the commitment to conduct a thorough comprehensive investigation, the investigation may continue for an extended period of time. Upon completion of the investigation the results will be presented to the District Attorney for review and analysis. At this time TPS is unable to provide any additional comment or information related to specific details of the ongoing investigation."

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

kittycat84041 - 2/16/2012 5:10 PM
0 Votes
Travis Hill is a good honest man. He was a great role model for my son while he attended ECHS. I have nothing but the upmost respect for him & always will. I know the accusations and believe none. We love you Coach!

lucy2 - 2/16/2012 2:39 AM
0 Votes
Uh, she did not say "more complex" in the broadcast, she said "more serious". I know, I watched it twice before I got so mad I decided to say something to you wackos. Nice try, but a-little too late. Next time you should tell your reporters to think before they speak.

lucy2 - 2/16/2012 2:33 AM
0 Votes
The Fox 23 reporter said that this case was more serious than "inappropriate relationships" (i.e. child abuse) and bullying. Really? Why is money always more important than abused kids? Even the people reporting the news think that taking money that doesn't belong to you is a much more serious crime than robbing a kid's innocence and overall well-being. They sound just like the politicians and most of those in the criminal justice system. I don't think I'll ever watch another Fox23 news broadcast after hearing that. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting!

thedannyblythe - 2/15/2012 9:30 PM
1 Vote
I hope justice is served swiftly. -Danny Blythe

roadster05r - 2/15/2012 8:41 PM
0 Votes
I posted earlier that the real story was "why" Springs and her cohorts hacked into that other persons computer. Do you hear me now??? This involves thousands of dollars in embezzled money. I wonder if Springs will enjoy the athletic facilities in the Department of Corrections. Get yourself a good lawyer're gonna need it.
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