California Charter Academy

By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 09/30/16, 3:11 PM PDT |

RANCHO CUCAMONGA >> September 2007 was a long time ago.

That month, Rihanna, Fergie and Jay-Z won big at the 24th MTV Video Music Awards. “The Sopranos,” “30 Rock,” James Spader and Sally Field won at the 59th Emmy Awards. Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic at the 127th Men’s US Open.

And former Hesperia Mayor Tad Honeycutt and Charles Steven Cox, the founder of the largest chain of charter schools in California, were indicted on 117 felony charges related to $5.5 million in taxpayer funds the pair allegedly mishandled.

Nine years and 26 days later, there still hasn’t been a trial.

Friday morning in West Valley Superior Court, the pair appeared before Judge Ingrid Uhler, who was sitting in for an absent Jon Ferguson.

After dozens of pre-trial hearings, Rancho Cucamonga-based David M. Goldstein was asking for another.

“We are hopefully working toward a resolution,” Goldstein told Uhler. “It’s a complex matter.”

“I figured that out,” she replied.

Founded in 1999, the Victorville-based California Charter Academy eventually grew to more than 60 school sites serving 12,000 students before abruptly closing 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 April 2005 audit commissioned by the state Department of Education, 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, on Sept. 4, 2007, 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 public schools under California law and are subject to all of the same open government rules.)

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