Ex-El Paso school chief to be freed from prison

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Associated Press

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 9:32 PM

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The former El Paso School District superintendent sentenced to 42 months in prison for his role as mastermind of a test-cheating scandal has been moved to a halfway house as the end of his prison term approaches.

Lorenzo Garcia received a sentence reduction for completing a Bureau of Prisons drug rehabilitation program while incarcerated and is set to be released in November, U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke told the El Paso Times (http://bit.ly/1lFvoLH ). His original release date was October 2015.

Garcia was moved from the Lewisburg penitentiary, a high-security federal prison located about 170 miles north of Philadelphia, to a halfway house Thursday. It isn't clear exactly where it is located, but it could be Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma or Texas.

At the sentencing in October 2012, U.S. District Judge David Briones ordered Garcia to take part in a drug rehabilitation program and said that the defendant could not benefit from the sentence reduction due to the seriousness of his offenses. But while incarcerated, Garcia took part in a Bureau of Prisons drug program and had his sentence reduced because BOP officials said he did not fit the profile of violent offenders.

Garcia was hired in 2006 and served as superintendent until his arrest in 2012.

He organized a cheating scheme in which El Paso school district officials encouraged low-performing students to drop out or held them back in the ninth grade so they would not take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests in the 10th grade. The cheating ensured that the district's high-stakes test results went up and Garcia secured bonuses for himself and his accomplices. Garcia personally received at least $56,000 in bonuses.

In 2012, he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in the test rigging and to steering a $450,000 no-bid contract for school materials to a mistress.

The Texas Education Agency put the district on probation, installed a board of managers to overtake the duties of the board of trustees.

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Information from: El Paso Times, http://www.elpasotimes.com

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