CLEVELAND - Former Cleveland schools administrator Daniel Burns was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for his role in stealing nearly $155,000 from the school district.
Burns, 54, was the district's chief operating officer from 2006 to 2009, and before that time was an employee of Toledo Public Schools. A jury last month found him guilty of racketeering, theft in office, and tampering with records in Cleveland.
Authorities said Burns faked the purchase of six duplicating machines between December, 2007, and November, 2008, and paid for consulting services that were never performed. According to prosecutors, the machines never existed.
In addition to jail time, Burns faces more than $223,000 in fines and restitution. He did not speak during the sentencing.
Authorities in Lucas County are investigating whether Burns and John Briggle, a Toledo businessman, used a similar scheme to steal $660,000 from the Toledo school district, where Burns was assistant to the business manager and business manager.
Burns was employed by Toledo Public Schools from 1976 until he retired as chief business manager on June 30, 2006, to fol-low Eugene Sanders, former TPS superintendent, to a similar job in Cleveland.
The Lucas County Prosecutor's Office worked with the Ohio state auditor on a probe into both Cleveland and Toledo spending.
John Weglian, chief of the Lucas County prosecutor's office's special units division, said yesterday, "The investigation involving Mr. Burns is continuing, and I expect to present that information to the grand jury within a month or so."
Mr. Weglian attended most of Burns' trial in Cleveland.
Toledo Public Schools Superintendent John Foley said he is waiting for the Toledo investigation to conclude.
"Obviously, it's sad for his family and unfortunate for him," Mr. Foley said. "We are just waiting to see what happens in Toledo."
In Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose said yesterday that Burns hurt the city's school district, but most important, the children who attend the Cleveland schools.
"Money was taken from the school district not with a gun but with a pen," Judge Ambrose said.
In a letter to the court, Mr. Sanders, who is superintendent of Cleveland schools, asked the judge to impose a sentence that "appropriately reflects the gravity of [Burns'] crimes" as well as the position of public trust he held.
Mr. Sanders said parents, students, staff, and school board members feel betrayed by Burns' actions.
"His criminal activity cost the students of this district thousands of dollars which could have been put into textbooks and other instructional supplies," Mr. Sanders wrote.
John McCaffrey, Burns' attorney, said his client would appeal the sentence. Burns asked to be released on bail but was denied.
He also faces a civil lawsuit filed by the Cleveland school district.
Briggle, 56, who testified for the prosecution in the Burns trial, owns Superior Offset Supplies in Toledo.
He is to be sentenced Aug. 2, having pleaded guilty in June to four counts of tampering with records and one count of theft.
Briggle faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, according to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office.
He also faces an Aug. 17 trial date in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on a charge of aggravated theft. That charge relates to a similar scheme in which he is accused of using his company to provide false bills to Toledo Hospital.
Contact Stan Donaldson at:
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Former Cleveland schools administrator Daniel Burns was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday for his role in stealing nearly $155,000 from the school district. Burns, 54, was the district's chief operating officer from 2006 to 2009, and before that time was an employee of Toledo Public Schools.