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Guilty plea in Davis School District fraud case



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A former Davis School District employee accused with his wife of ripping off the district in a nearly $4.3 million case has pleaded guilty to assisting in copyright fraud.

John D. Ross, 67, of Layton entered his plea Wednesday to a charge of misdemeanor aiding and abetting fraudulent copyright notice in U.S. District Court.

Ross admitted helping his wife, Susan G. Ross, copy and distribute articles that falsely indicated she was the author. He said in a written statement that some of the articles were included in reading kits for the district.

Ross agreed to forfeit at least $786,000 in cash; homes in Layton, South Weber and Mountain Green; a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a 2006 Acura MDX as part of the plea agreement.

A sentencing date has not been set.

A status conference was scheduled Friday for Susan Ross before the same federal judge, Clark Waddoups.

The Rosses were indicted in November 2006 on 47 counts of mail fraud, money laundering, theft and copyright infringement. While the indictment covers a period from January 2000 to May 2005, U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said then that the scheme actually began in 1985.

The money came from a federal program that gives grants to districts to help low-income students struggling in school. In one instance, according to the indictment, the district paid $93 for each copy of a book that was selling at stores for $13.22.

The books handled by the Rosses were illegal photocopies of titles such as "Away We Go," "Yellow Fish Blue Fish," "A Soft Pillow for an Armadillo" and "Birds Fly, Bears Don't," the indictment said.

The purchases were routed through Research and Development Consultants, which took an 8 percent cut and sent the rest of the money to the Rosses, according to the indictment.

Davis district auditors became suspicious in spring 2005 and alerted Farmington police and the FBI.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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