Thursday, June 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

School Superintendent Had Sticky Fingers

SAN DIEGO (CN) - The former superintendent of El Centro Elementary School District pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding the district, the federal government and the National Science Foundation of more than $325,000 in grant money, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Michael P. Klentschy pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, prosecutors said in a statement. He was superintendent of the school district in the heart of the Imperial Valley from 1994 until 2007.

While superintendent, Klentschy used federal grant money to hire a "partnership entity" for $400,000, of which $90,000 was kicked back to him as a "research assistant," though he was not, prosecutors said in the statement.

He got another grant recipient to pay him more than $78,000 for being an assistant research director, though he was not; he arranged for "two close family friends" to be paid with federal grant money for work that was not completed; and he took nearly $60,000 in "duplicate travel reimbursements," prosecutors said.

He also presented data to grant officials, purportedly from his school district, in pursuit of a National Science Foundation Grant, in which "approximately 75 percent of the test scores reported to the grant authorities were falsified by Klentschy," prosecutors said.

As part of his plea agreement, Klentschy agreed to pay $323,282 to the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and his former school district.

He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each of two counts, at his June 25 sentencing.


Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.