DPS principal pleads guilty in bribery case

Jim Lynch, and Holly Fournier

Detroit — The parade of plea deals connected with an investigation into kickback schemes among Detroit Public Schools officials continued Thursday with the principal of Jerry White Center High School.

Tia’ Von Moore-Patton, 46, pleaded guilty to her role in a $2.7 million bribery and kickback scheme at the district. She had been charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, which carries up to five years in prison.

She is accused of accepting around $4,000 in kickbacks in the form of gift cards from Norman Shy, a former school supplies vendor. On Wednesday, Shy agreed to serve around 5 to 7 years in prison for conspiring with school officials to submit fraudulent invoices for goods he did not deliver.

Moore-Patton faced a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Her plea deal calls for a sentence of up to 18 months. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 8.

FBI investigators say Shy hatched the scheme, which ran from 2002 through January 2015, by offering $908,518 in cash, checks and gift cards to DPS officials in exchange for billing the district for $5 million in business with his company.

Moore-Patton allegedly accepted her bribes between January 2011 and June 2014, according to court documents. She has been principal at Jerry White since 2008.

Appearing before Judge Victoria Roberts, Moore-Patton was asked about the materials Shy supplied to the school and the amount he billed.

“Did Mr. Shy provide all of the supplies you had submitted purchase orders....(for)?” Roberts asked.

“No,” Moore-Patton replied. “He didn’t always send the supplies.”

Moore-Patton is one of 13 former and current DPS officials whom Roberts asked Shy to implicate at his plea hearing Wednesday. The 74-year-old Franklin resident said “yes” to all 13 names, including Moore-Patton.

Sentencing guidelines call for Shy to serve between 70 and 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and income tax invasion. He faced up to 10 years if convicted.

Also Wednesday, former DPS principals Ronnie Sims and Gerlma Johnson pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.

Sims, who had a 23-year career with DPS, faces between 30 and 37 months in prison when sentenced Sept. 7.

Johnson, who worked for DPS for 29 years, faces between 24 and 30 months in prison when sentenced Sept. 8.

Several other former and current DPS principals already have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme, including Clara Flowers, a former assistant superintendent of DPS’ Office of Specialized Student Services and former principal of Henderson Academy.

Officials with plea hearings still scheduled include:

■May 18: Ronald Alexander, former principal at Spain Elementary. His hearing was postponed from May 5.

■May 20: Beverly Campbell, former principal at Rosa Parks School and Greenfield Union Elementary-Middle School.

■Willye Pearsall, a former principal at Thurgood Marshall Elementary, does not yet have a plea hearing scheduled.

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier