Watch CBS News

Detroit School Principal Who Drove Maserati Pleads Guilty To Taking Bribes

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A former Detroit high school principal who drove a Maserati has pleaded guilty to accepting nearly $60,000 from a company hired to perform tutoring services.

Kenyetta Wilbourn-Snapp told a federal judge on Thursday that she "betrayed the public trust." She faces three years or more in prison when sentenced on June 1, although cooperation with investigators could get her a much shorter sentence.

Wilbourn-Snapp was principal at two struggling Detroit schools, Denby and Mumford, which were operated by the state-run Educational Achievement Authority. She says payoffs were part of the education culture in Detroit.

The 40-year-old Wilbourn-Snapp also pleaded guilty to a tax crime for failing to report the kickback payments as income during taxable year 2012.

Co-defendant Glynis Thornton, an after-school tutoring vendor, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for her role in the case. The 53-year-old admitted paying bribes to the principal in exchange for her company getting the work. She's facing at least two years behind bars.

According to the government, Snapp admitted to selecting Thornton's company, Making a Difference Everyday ("M.A.D.E."), as the after-school tutoring vendor for Denby High School and then Mumford High School. In exchange, Thornton paid Snapp monetary kickbacks totaling approximately $58,000.

Thornton admitted that instead of paying Snapp directly, she disguised the payments by issuing checks to a M.A.D.E. employee's company. The employee would then deposit and withdraw the money and give it to Snapp.

"Public corruption crimes are always disappointing, but it is even more heartbreaking when a school principal takes bribes," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. "Squandering school funds in exchange for bribes is especially disturbing in this case because Detroit's school children already face so many financial challenges."

The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.