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State Going After Pensions Of Ex-Detroit Principals Convicted In Bribery Scheme

LANSING (WWJ) -  Twelve former Detroit Public School principals -- already convicted of stealing $2.7 million from the district in a kickback scheme -- might soon have to forfeit their state pensions.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Friday initiated civil forfeiture actions to confiscate the pensions of the 12 ex-Detroit Public School officials convicted of accepting federal program bribery in a $2.7-million kickback scheme.

Schuette's action seeks the forfeiture of all State of Michigan or Detroit Public Schools contributions from the time the bribery began until the time of their termination or retirement.

"An educator's first responsibility is to the children of the school, and the individuals that accepted bribes violated that trust and responsibility," Schuette said in a statement. "Actions have consequences, and they should not reap rewards for criminal behavior."

Defendants Clara Flowers, Beverly Campbell, Stanley Johnson, Nina Graves-Hicks, Gerlma Johnson, James Hearn, Tanya Bowman, Ronald Alexander, Tia'Von Moore-Patton, Ronnie Tims, Clara Smith and Willye Pearsall are members or retirees of the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System whose pensions have received contributions from the State of Michigan or Detroit Public Schools.

Prosecutors say bogus invoices were submitted for chairs, paper and other supplies. School employees received gift cards, cash and checks.

Michigan is one of 25 states that has a law providing for the forfeiture of retirement benefits of public employees convicted of violating the public trust. The confiscated funds cannot be used to pay restitution.

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