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Sunnyside employee indicted on fraud charges

Former Sunnyside Unified School District Parents as Teachers Program coordinator Joan Katz was arraigned in Pima County Superior Court on October 8, 2021, stemming from a September 2021, grand jury indictment on felony fraud charges.  

According to the indictment, Katz hired her daughter’s company, The Souls Nest, LLC, between January and April of 2019, without obtaining competitive bids and without disclosing a conflict of interest. Katz is also alleged to have hired G&H Educational Services, owned by another district employee, without obtaining competitive bids.

The indictment alleges that Katz submitted false documents after payment was sent to both companies to cover up the lack of a competitive bidding process for both projects.

A report released September 28, 2021, by the Arizona Auditor General's Office shows that an investigation revealed Katz purchased $1,374 of printing services from her daughter’s company for the PAT program, "without conducting any competitive procurement or disclosing to appropriate district officials that her daughter was the sole member (owner)  the company."

The reports states Katz continued to work on the project, exchanging 67 emails between January and February 2019, with her daughter and reviewing three versions of the invoice.

The investigation found that, "despite repeated prompts from SUSD officials, Katz did not complete her fiscal year 2019 conflict of interest disclosure form until March 8, 2019, and even then, she falsely listed that neither she nor her relative had a conflict of interest."

The day after SUSD issued payment to her daughter, Katz completed another disclosure form, this time listing a conflict of interest by stating that her daughter made marketing materials for the PAT program.

The Auditor General's report also found Katz is alleged to have directed a subordinate employee to record price quotes for both her daughter's project and website design services by G&H Educational Services, though no price quotes had been obtained. After the district had paid each party, Katz and a subordinate employee obtained price quotes from vendors and included them in district files.

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Katz retired from the district in January, 2020.

Charges brought by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich include fraudulent schemes and practices, presentment of false instrument for filing, and conflict of interest.

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Arizona Attorney General's Office

Joan Katz.