Peer pressure is often cited for regretful behavior, but now an ex-principal is using it to explain why he stole almost $59,000 from the school district that employed him.
The Detroit Free Press’s Tresa Baldas reports that Ronnie Sims, ex-principal of Fleming Elementary and Brenda Scott Middle School, received a 15-month prison sentence for receiving kickbacks in an ongoing, million-dollar bribery scheme that stripped funds from Detroit Public Schools.
Sims' reasoning at his sentencing was that he felt pressured.
He told a judge that his peers pressured him to do business with a vendor named Norman Shy.
More from Baldas of the The Detroit Free Press:
In court today, Sims explained to U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts why he did what he did.
"I was kind of pressured," said Sims, claiming that "there were a couple of people pressuring principals" to use Shy. And if you didn't use Shy, "they just acted like you don't exist," Sims said, claiming he would be left out of conversations or forced to sit alone at a table on certain occasions.
Baldas reports that Sims received kickbacks from 2008 to 2012 that he partially spent on casino gambling, air travel, hotels, groceries and gas.
In all, 12 principals and one DPS administrator were charged with participating in the scheme. Sims was the first principal to receive a sentence.
Norman Shy orchestrated the scandal through AllState Sales — a school supplies company he ran. Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek reports that Shy plead guilty and was recently sentenced to five years in prison.