Senator charged with failing to insure charter school workers

State Sen. Maurice Washington has been charged with failing to provide industrial insurance coverage to workers at the charter school he helped create and run in Sparks.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Greg Zunino filed the criminal complaint in Sparks Justice Court on Friday.

Washington, a two-term Republican, was president of the school during the period when it was without insurance. He has since resigned that post.

This is the second time he has faced charges of not providing industrial insurance for workers. The first was last year when he was fined for not covering workers at his child-care center in Sparks.

The new charges come even as the charter school, Nevada Leadership Academy, faces a hearing over whether its charter should be revoked by Washoe County School District. The allegations in that case include whether Washington used money rightfully belonging to the school to help support the Center of Hope Christian Fellowship, the Sparks church where Washington is an ordained minister and president.

Gil Folk of Washoe School District said the committee reviewing the charter school's response to the revocation notice should meet within the week. He said it will make a recommendation whether to revoke the charter to the school board at it's August meeting.

An affidavit filed with the criminal complaint says Washington engaged in a questionable practice of shuffling money from the school to the church. No allegations of criminal activity have been made involving the money transfers.

The audit conducted by the state Department of Education goes farther, saying grant money belonging to the school was transferred to another account which only Washington had access to, not the school. It said Washington moved $150,000 from the school's bank account to the church account to help close the mortgage for its new building and property. And it said the school's lease was designed so that the school covered almost all the cost of the mortgage as well as paying utilities and liability insurance for both itself and the church.

Washington said he was not involved in the daily activities of the school's operation and suggested it was administrative aide Alicia Stewart who failed to pay the insurance premium for the school. She, however, told investigators Washington was "intimately involved" in the school operations and directed her to stop paying bills earlier this year.

Bookkeeper Rita Aldrete told investigators Washington told her the school's bills could not be paid until a loan was secured to buy the church property occupied by the school.


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