Brighter Choice CFO admits to fraud

More than $200,000 was stolen from charter school foundation

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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— The former chief financial officer for an Albany charter school organization’s foundation admitted to stealing more than $200,000 from the fund.

Ronald Racela, 49, of Albany pleaded guilty before Albany Count Court Judge Thomas Breslin today to one count of second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony.

Racela stole $202,838 from the Brighter Choice Foundation between Sept. 15, 2011, and Dec. 12, 2012, by making false payroll entries in the organization’s financial records. He paid himself these proceeds.

Racela was on felony probation at the time of his arrest stemming from a previous third-degree grand larceny conviction in January 2011. He faces 5 to 10 years in state prison, in addition to a concurrent sentence for violating the conditions of his parole when sentenced on May 17. He also will be ordered to pay restitution to the Brighter Choice Foundation, which oversees 10 charter schools in Albany.

“The amount of money Mr. Racela stole for his own personal use pales in comparison to the damage he has done to the thousands of children enrolled in the numerous schools the Brighter Choice Foundation oversees by robbing them of the resources needed for them to receive a quality education,” said Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares in a press release.

Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Clark of the Financial Crimes Bureau prosecuted the case.

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