2 ex-employees of closed Goodyear school indicted for fraud

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PHOENIX (AP/FOX 10) - Authorities say two former employees of a closed charter school in Goodyear have been indicted for fraud.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office says a state grand jury has indicted Harold Cadiz and Joann Vega for their alleged roles in the fraud case.

Prosecutors say the $2.2 million fraud involved the use of fake students at the Bradley Academy of Excellence that closed its doors last January.

Cadiz had been the academy's principal and Vega was the registrar.

The school's former chairman, Daniel Hughes, has already entered a guilty plea to conspiracy and theft charges. As part of a plea deal, Hughes will have to pay back the money involved, and faces up to 12 years in prison.

Authorities say Cadiz and Vega conspired with other school officials and employees to over-report the number of enrolled students to the Arizona Department of Education in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

Quacy Smith, an attorney for Cadiz and Vega, says they are actually whistleblowers who helped the Attorney General go after Hughes, and should not be charged with any crimes.

"Had it not been for these two folks that came forward, the state wouldn't have had jack to convict this man," said Smith. "They are not villains. They are victims of process where they came forward, and now, the state has turned on them."

Smith did not explain exactly how Cadiz and Vega helped with the investigation. Meanwhile, officials with the Attorney General's Office say it does not want to make any additional comments at this time, in order to protect the case's integrity.