Founding superintendent of Zoe Learning Academy faces 18-count indictment involving financial conspiracy

Richard S. Rose taken into custody Wednesday morning

Classroom file photo.
Classroom file photo. (News 6)

HOUSTON – The founding superintendent of Zoe Learning Academy is accused of conspiracy, mail fraud, stealing government funds, money laundering and false bankruptcy declarations, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Richard S. Rose was taken into custody Wednesday morning.

A federal grand jury returned the 18-count indictment against him, U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick confirmed.

Rose was expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

The charges allege Rose was the founder of Zoe Learning Academy and served in various roles, including superintendent, CEO and chief financial officer during the academy’s operations from 2001 until the school closed in September 2019.

Rose allegedly embezzled funds intended for the charter school’s operation and used them for personal expenses such as legal fees, a lawsuit settlement and for the purchase of a timeshare, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

“The indictment also alleges that after Zoe ceased operations, Rose, as Zoe’s agent, filed for bankruptcy and made various false statements under penalty of perjury in documents regarding payments to insiders, creditors and other matters,” investigators said.

If convicted of mail fraud, Rose faces up to 20 years in prison.

The money laundering and theft of government funds allegations carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years, while Rose faces additional five-year terms for the conspiracy and false bankruptcy declarations, authorities said.

All charges could also result in a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

The Houston grand jury returned the indictment under seal Dec. 11, which was unsealed per Rose’s arrest.

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