- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Some students in South Dakota’s two largest school districts received tutoring from companies run by two Illinois executives accused in a $33 million fraud scheme that prosecutors say included bribing school officials with strip club visits, cruises and other benefits.

The executives of Brilliance Academy, Inc., and subsidiary Babbage Net School, Inc. were indicted in Chicago last week and charged with multiple counts of mail fraud and federal program bribery.

It is unclear whether any wrongdoing happened regarding Rapid City Area Schools and the Sioux Falls School District. Eighteen Rapid City students and seven in Sioux Falls were assisted by Babbage Net, who provided the services under provisions set by No Child Left Behind, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1metyaX ) reported.

Authorities contend that Jowhar Soultanali, 58, and his son, Kabir Kassam, 34, went after government money earmarked for tutoring low-income students and defrauded more than 200 public school districts nationwide.

Prosecutors also say the men paid bribes to education officials in Texas and New Mexico; those officials have been charged with accepting bribes to steer business to the firms.

Rapid City Area Schools Superintendent Tim Mitchell said students received services from Babbage Net. He said the district cooperated with a request from federal investigators to turn over records related to the company.

Sioux Falls district spokeswoman DeeAnn Konrad said the students took an assessment test from Babbage and one of them went on to receive tutoring.

The companies were paid $1,300 in federal dollars for its services in Sioux Falls and more than $32,000 for the work in Rapid City.

Konrad and Mitchell both said the tutoring companies were on a list that the state Department of Education provided.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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