A jury on Friday found a former Vineland assistant principal not guilty of padding his salary with school district funds.
The jury rejected arguments that John Sammons billed the school district for home tutoring that he never gave to students in February and March of 2009.
Authorities alleged when Sammons was arrested in April 2009 that the figure was in the thousands of dollars, and that he received the payments by submitting fraudulent time sheets to the school district. Authorities said Sammons’ base annual school district salary was $110,000 at the time of the arrest.
However, the jury, sitting in the Cumberland County courthouse in Bridgeton, found the former Cunningham Alternative School assistant principal not guilty on 33 charges. The indictment handed up against Sammons in July 2011 included charges of official misconduct, theft by deception, tampering with government records, falsifying government records, forgery and conspiracy to commit official misconduct.
At the time of the indictment, Vineland school officials said the district’s Home Instruction Program pays instructors to tutor students who have missed significant time at school. The district must provide instruction to students absent for more than five days. That includes students with extended illnesses and suspensions.
The school officials said the instruction is conducted in person by a teacher who is paid $25 per hour, per student. Teachers can instruct several students simultaneously while being paid for each student, they said.
Sammons was arrested with his daughter, Tracy, who at the time was sixth-grade teacher in Fairfield Township. Authorities said both father and daughter were under surveillance for an extended period of time.
Authorities alleged that Tracy Sammons also submitted paperwork for home instruction she never completed.
Tracy Sammons was ultimately accepted in a pre-trial intervention program. Part of the deal required Tracy Sammons to give up her teaching license.
She also provided testimony during her father’s trial as part of the pre-trial intervention program agreement.
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