Former Pontiac schools assistant superintendent sentenced for embezzlement
Former Pontiac schools assistant superintendent Jumanne Sledge, 42, has been sentenced to one year in prison, one year on home confinement and three years of supervised release in connection with charges of embezzling $236,000 from the district.
The sentence was handed down this week by U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood, who also required Sledge, of Bloomfield Hills, to make restitution for a portion of the amount he was charged with taking.
Sledge, of Bloomfield Hills, opted to make a plea deal shortly before his trial was to start last year. His sentencing had been postponed at least three times.
Had he been convicted on original charges, Sledge faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for program fraud. He also faced up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of money laundering.
The former assistant to Superintendent Thomas Maridada III from 2009 through 2011 had oversight of both Pontiac district finances and human resources.
Sledge was indicted March 6, 2012 on charges of program fraud and money laundering by the U.S. Department of Justice in Detroit after an internal audit and an FBI investigation.
The former Pontiac school official is accused of directing a Pontiac district employee to write him a check in 2010 for $236,000, payable to “Leadership Academy,” which Sledge then deposited into a bank account he controlled.
Sledge was suspended at the end of 2011 pending an investigation of mismanagement of funds, including federal Title I funds, after the check was turned over to a grand jury and the FBI.
A few weeks later, the FBI seized Sledge’s 2002 Jaguar and a $34,000 bank account.
Jeff Downey, director of the F.B.I. office in Oakland County, said: “The investigation with Sledge is complete, but public corruption remains a top priority of the F.B.I. and we continue to follow up on any and all allegations of wrongdoing.”
Former Interim Superintendent Walter Burt, who took over the top spot for a year during the time of the investigation, said of the outcome: “It was appalling to see his lack of integrity and also lack of being considerate of the school district and especially a school district that had huge financial challenges.
“What would compel a person to take money from a district for his own personal interest is beyond my imagination. I am happy justice has prevailed and I truly hope his sentence is commensurate with the damages he brought on the district,” Burt said.
Former Pontiac Board of Education Trustee Gill Garrett, who pushed for audits and investigation of finances while he was with the district, said he is happiest about the restitution.
“It is the kids’ money,” said Garrett, who has been in law enforcement for 14 years.
“I am hoping that he testifies against anyone who had any others who had done wrongdoing.
“From what we are facing in the school district, it goes a lot a deeper. It is not just Jumanne Sledge.
“There are a lot of good people in the school district day in and day out serving kids and to have someone come in and do something like this is sad,” Garrett said.