Noel Rodriquez pleaded guilty to embezzling $145,480 from the school.

David C. Weiss, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that Noel Rodriguez, 56, formerly of Dover, pleaded guilty to one count of federal program theft before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews. Rodriguez is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30, 2018.

According to court records and statements made in open court, over a three-year period beginning in July 2011, while serving as principal of the Academy of Dover, a charter school in Dover, Rodriguez embezzled $145,480 from the school.

Rodriguez accomplished this embezzlement in a number of ways. First, he charged personal expenses to four unauthorized credit cards he opened in the name of the school. Rodriguez also abused the Delaware’s voucher program, by which charter schools are permitted to submit qualified expenses for reimbursement, and Delaware’s procurement card system, by which the state issues credit cards to charter school administrators to purchase necessary school supplies. Rodriguez used the embezzled money for personal expenses such as electronics, gardening, and camping equipment, automobile costs, a dog house, personal travel and home improvement items.

During this time, the Academy of Dover received significant federal funding, which provides the basis for the federal program theft charges. The maximum penalty is 10years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

Acting U.S. Attorney Weiss said, “Mr. Rodriguez stole from the school he was entrusted to run. He is being held accountable for his betrayal of the public trust, and his case should serve as a warning to others contemplating misappropriating public funds.”

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Education – Office of the Inspector General, and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, with assistance from the Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts. Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth L. Van Pelt is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.