A foundation that operates a Stillwater school for special needs children received $425,000 restitution paid by the man who was the foundations’ first chief executive officer.
Mya Gonzales Foundation board members accepted the checkWednesday from the Payne County District Attorney’s Office. The money — which billionaire oilman Boone Pickens donated to the foundation — will fund therapy and tuition for students at the Rise School of Stillwater, board members said. The school is part of the Cleo L. Craig Child Development Lab at Oklahoma State University.
The school’s CEO, Bradley Stroup, 49, of Colorado, was accused of pocketing $425,000 Boone Pickens donated to the school and an additional $145,000 from former Oklahoma State University athletics official Jimmy Gonzales. Gonzales and his wife Mary Gonzales formed the Mya Foundation, naming it after their daughter who has Down syndrome, court documents state.
Gonzales met Stroup more than 20 years ago when Gonzales was a coach at a Wisconsin university, court documents say. Stroup contacted Gonzales in 2005 and persuaded him to invest money in his business deals with the Virginia Teacher’s Association and a telecommunications company, according to court documents. Stroup again contacted Gonzales for money to invest in a “land deal,” and Gonzales had Pickens’ attorney send the $425,000 donation to Stroup.
“Gonzales told Stroup to hold onto the $425,000 and not to invest it until he decided what he wanted to do. Gonzales did not hear from Stroup for months,” an agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in court documents.
The Payne County District Attorney’s Office charged Stroup in 2008 with three counts of obtaining money by false pretenses. In 2010, his charges were amended to embezzlement, racketeering, fraudulently offering the sale of a security and two counts of fraudulent sale of a security.
Last month, Stroup pleaded no contest to all charges except racketeering. Prosecutors dropped the racketeering count during plea negotiations, Assistant District Attorney Debra Vincent said.
Stroup was sentenced to a five-year deferred sentence, meaning the case will be disposed and expunged after five years if Stroup continues pays an additional $25,000 in interest and follows through with other court requirements. He will not face prison unless he violates the terms of his deferment.