A third BISD official is under federal criminal investigation

12News has confirmed a third Beaumont Independent School District official is under federal criminal investigation.

That official is BISD purchasing director Naomi Lawrence Lee, who's been on paid leave since January.

Last month, BISD sources told us Lee had not paid a major vendor for an entire year, even though our sources tell us she was getting extra pay to take care of those invoices.

The amount, totaling almost $19,000, was not paid until after Lee was suspended.

As part of the report we did on this, we filed a Freedom of Information request asking for placement sheets documenting any extra pay Lee received or any payments she might have gotten as a vendor herself.

Our request sought the following information: "All of Naomi Lawrence-Lee's placement sheets from the date she was hired, ... and copies of any payments that were made to her as a vendor."

Wednesday we received notice from BISD that the district believes our request is excused from the Texas Public Information Act because the U.S. Attorney's office is requesting the documents not be released because of its ongoing investigation; saying the release could hurt their case.

In her letter to the attorney general, BISD attorney Melody Chappell writes, "I have been informed by the office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas that the requested information relates to an ongoing criminal investigation and the release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of crime.  Accordingly, the United States Attorney General's office requests that the documents not be disclosed."

Two other former BISD financial officials, Devin McCraney and Sharika Allison, have been indicted by a federal grand jury and are accused of embezzling $4 million dollars from the school district.


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