Former MPS Board President Michael Bonds indicted in bribery scheme involving charter company

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Michael Bonds

PHILADELPHIA -- Former Milwaukee Public Schools President Michael Bonds has been federally indicted. He's accused in a wide-ranging bribery scheme stretching across state lines. Federal documents outline the bribery scandal where Bonds took kickbacks in exchange for helping a charter school.

Bonds left MPS abruptly last summer, but his alleged actions are leaving a lasting impression.

Amy Mizialko

"I was shocked. Federal charges are a big deal," said Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA -- the teachers' union) President Amy Mizialko.

Amy Mizialko, MTEA's president, was on the receiving end of Bonds' outburst last spring.

"This is an individual who spent 11 years on our school board disparaging educators, who a year ago told me and then a hundred parents, educators and students to go to hell," said Mizialko.

A federal indictment released Thursday, April 11, outlines Bonds' role in a bribery scheme. Prosecutors say he used his position as school board president to benefit himself and and a Philadelphia-based charter school. Court documents explain Bonds set up a fake business called "African American Books and Gifts" to disguise payments totaling $6,000.

While the indictment doesn't explicitly name the charter school, records indicate it was the Universal Academy for the College Bound. It has since left Milwaukee.

Universal Academy for the College Bound

"I was really taken aback. Really, really surprised," said Meagan Holman, former school board vice president.

Meagan Holman is the former school board vice president and served on the board with Bonds.

Michael Bonds

"It's a tragic situation. It's really sad for someone who was a public servant for so long to squander whatever legacy he had," Holman said.

Meagan Holman

A former educational leader who may be getting a difficult lesson outside of the classroom.

"You need to hold your leaders accountable," said Holman.

If convicted, Bonds faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a three-year period of supervised release, and a $500,000 fine.  Forfeiture of $18,000 in bribery proceeds also may be ordered.

A spokesman for Milwaukee Public Schools issued this statement:

"Milwaukee Public Schools has recently become aware of federal charges brought against former Milwaukee Board of School Director Michael Bonds. This is an ongoing federal investigation and the district has no further comment at this time."

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