AG Brnovich: Indictment Against Woman Accused of Misusing Public Funds

Phoenix – Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced today a Grand Jury indictment against a Chandler woman accused of misusing public funds provided by a State of Arizona scholarship program.  Reshanett McDermott was indicted on four felony counts: one count of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, one count of Fraudulent Schemes and Practices, and two counts of Theft.

"Anyone who is found to have blatantly abused the system by misusing public benefits will be investigated and vigorously prosecuted by my office," said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Protecting the taxpayers of Arizona is a top priority.”

In 2014, McDermott applied for and received an Empowerment Scholarship for two of her children for the 2014-2015 school year. The Empowerment Scholarship is a tuition assistance program to be used for tuition at non-governmental private schools in Arizona. There are statutory limitations on how the scholarship funds can be spent.  McDermott allegedly signed an agreement stating she would not enroll her two children in public school while receiving Empowerment Scholarship funds. Despite the signed agreement, McDermott allegedly enrolled both of her children in public schools during the 2014-2015 school year.

More than $2,500 in scholarship funds were distributed to McDermott through a reloadable Visa card. It is alleged that McDermott used the scholarship funds placed on the reloadable Visa card to purchase several electronic devices on Walmart.com, including a high definition television, a smartphone, and two computer tablets. It is alleged that McDermott also used the scholarship funds to make a $410 non-qualified payment to Jackrabbit Family Medicine, which is now known as Camelback Family Planning.

An internal audit by the Arizona Department of Education uncovered the ineligible purchases and the information was forwarded to the Attorney General's Office. Upon discovery of these purchases and payments, McDermott was sent a notification requiring her, pursuant to the rules of the scholarship, to pay back the more than $2,500 McDermott received through the scholarship. McDermott did not pay back any of the scholarship funds.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Blake is prosecuting this case.

For more information, members of the media may contact Mia Garcia, Spokesperson and Director of Media Relations at (602) 339-5895 or Mia.Garcia@azag.gov