California Charter Academy

By Beau Yarbrough, The Sun
Posted: 09/12/15 – 9:12 PM PDT |

On Sept. 4, 2007, Charles Steven Cox, the founder of the largest chain of charter schools in California, and Tad Honeycutt, the former mayor of Hesperia, were indicted on 117 felony charges related to $5.5 million in taxpayer funds the pair allegedly mishandled. Eight years later, neither have been tried in court.

Founded in 1999, the Victorville-based California Charter Academy eventually grew to more than 60 school sites serving 12,000 students before it abruptly closed in August 2004. Cox also founded Educational Administrative Services Corp., a for-profit company intended to provide management services to the schools, run by Honeycutt. Cox served as CEO for both the charter academy and EASC.

In an audit commissioned by the state Department of Education released in April 2005, Cox and Honeycutt, along with a who’s who of High Desert elected officials, were accused of misappropriating $23 million in state and federal funds.

Five months after the audit was released, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Cox and Honeycutt — the two mentioned most often in the audit, by a wide margin. Cox was accused of making $5.5 million in payments to Honeycutt’s for-profit subsidiary without the academy board’s approval or knowledge. (Charter schools are technically public schools under California law and are subject to all of the same open government rules.)

CCA founder Cox was charged with 56 counts of misappropriation of public funds, 56 counts of grand theft and a single count of failing to file a tax return. He faces up to 64 years in prison.

Honeycutt was charged with 15 counts of misappropriation of public funds, 15 counts of grand theft, three counts of failure to file a state tax return and a single count of filing a false tax return. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

But Cox has had trouble keeping a defense attorney and Honeycutt’s political connections have caused problems as well.

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