Ex-DISD Chief of Staff to Admit to Kickback Scheme, Probably Regrets Sending Himself Those Incriminating Emails

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Jerome Oberlton
It's been a while since we had occasion to skewer Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles for a personnel move. Jennifer Sprague, the overpaid and underqualified strategy maven; Miles saboteur Rebecca Rodriguez; chief of staff and FBI target Jerome Oberlton -- they are all long gone.

But now that Oberlton is set to plead guilty to taking $60,000 in kickbacks while overseeing technology for Atlanta Public Schools, it's worth revisiting what a monumentally bad hire he was.

It's not just that Miles hired a chief of staff who appears to have broken federal law. It's that he broke federal law, then used his DISD email account to send himself descriptions of precisely how he had broken federal law.

It came to light during a review of Oberlton's work by DISD investigators. Here's The Dallas Morning News' Matthew Haag:

The DISD investigative report includes two emails that were forwarded from Oberlton's Dallas ISD email account to his private Yahoo account on the day he met with Miles to resign. One includes notes about data warehousing deal in Atlanta with Computech, the Detroit company.

"I received in total about $50K in total kickbacks from the work Computech did with APS," the email says. "I surmised that accepting funds after I left APS would be legitimate and [I] moved on with life until I was met by two FBI agents on March 8, 2013, at my job."

The other email was a journal entry about when FBI investigators met with him at DISD administration building in spring.

"They [FBI investigators] indicated that because I entered into a contract with a company called Computech and accepted funds from them, I would be indicted with a crime. I nearly lost my breath and thought this was some kind of joke or something. ... I am still praying and believing that God will bring a resolution to this case in my favor," the email says.

Instead of praying, Oberlton would have been wiser to not leave such a blatant electronic record of his misdeeds, or to have not accepted kickbacks in the first place.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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6 comments
bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

The headline is deceptive.  It wasn't in his role as a DISD official, or as a black man, or as a father, or as a church-goer that he committed his crimes.  So labeling him in the headline as any of those things is deceptive.

His crimes were committed in another state and in another job - and he should be identified by that.

Cowtown
Cowtown

Oberwetter or  Oberlton? Sober up and make up yer mind...

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@bvckvs where does it state that he's black, a father, or even a church goer? Without the picture, which is typically included in an article like this, we wouldn't have even known he was black. 

fracquestions
fracquestions

@bvckvs 

I see nothing wrong with the headline. It is accurate and not deceptive in any way. It does not imply that Oberlton committed his crimes in Dallas, or while the Chief of Staff at DISD. It merely identifies him as the ex-DISD Chief of Staff, which he is. And, apparently, he did use his DISD e-mail account to send those e-mails to his personal account, so that part of the headline is also correct.

I did not notice the headline referring to his race, family status, church affiliation (other than his praying that the charges will go away) or other things not pertinent. You merely added that fluff to bolster your attack on the headline instead of directing your invectives toward the criminal who took kickbacks in violation of federal laws.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@DirtyP1@bvckvs

I believe you when you say that you think you don't have any other resources.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@fracquestions@bvckvs

The headline DOES imply that he committed his crimes while working for DISD - because that's the only description given of his job.
By referring to him that way INSTEAD of the role he held at the time of his crime, the implication is not only that he was acting as a DISD employee, but also that the role he did hold was not relevant to the subject at hand.

If one is to consider his job significant to the crime, then this is called "burying the lead".
Beyond that - it's worth pointing out that there is no organization in Dallas called "DISD".  The school district dropped that name when it reincorporated several years ago.  Today, it's called "Dallas ISD".

It's just bad journalism all around - which is fine, because it's commentary and as such is not held to the higher standards of journalistic integrity.  So the point here wasn't to report the news, but rather to generate web traffic - thus the deceptive headline.

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