Employees at four Los Angeles area school districts participated in a “massive scheme” to steal thousands of new and used textbooks, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday by L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
A Long Beach book buyer allegedly orchestrated the scheme involving employees at the Los Angeles, Inglewood, Lynwood, and Bellflower school districts. Librarians in Inglewood and Lynwood participated, as well as office technicians at Venice, Locke and University High Schools in L.A.
The indictment alleges Corey Frederick, 43, paid school employees anywhere from $600 to $47,000 to steal textbooks in literature, economics, physics, anatomy and physiology. Frederick operates “Doorkeeper Textz” in Long Beach. He allegedly paid more than $200,000 in bribes.
Twelve of the people indicted have been arraigned; they all pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors allege Frederick resold the books to various textbook distributors, including Amazon, Seattle book distributor Bookbyte, and Follett Educational Services in Illinois. In some cases, he resold books to the same districts from which they were stolen, according to the indictment.
At least 7,000 textbooks allegedly were taken just from LAUSD. But prosecutors said the districts lacked any organized system to track books, and they do not have a total number of books stolen.
A statement released by L.A. Unified stated, in part: "We are outraged by the alleged behavior of these employees...We are taking immediate action to suspend any accused employee currently working for LAUSD. If the allegations are true, we will do everything within our legal power to recoup from the parties involved the resources stolen through these reprehensible acts."
The District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation after Inglewood Unified School District police uncovered the alleged embezzlement in their district.
“Taking books out of the hands of public school students is intolerable – especially when school employees sell them for their own personal profit,” Lacey said in a statement.