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Investigation by DA's office of Blue Oak Charter School begins

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CHICO, Calif. - Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said his office will investigate possible criminal activity involving former administrators at Blue Oak Charter School in Chico.

On Thursday, Ramsey met with Butte County Office of Education Superintendent Timothy Taylor and Chico Unified Superintendent Kelly Staley.

They discussed an audit that found "fraud-like behavior" being conducted AT Blue Oak Charter, which has an enrollment of 380 students in kindergarten through the 8th grade.

"There's sufficient smoke there to warrant an investigation," said Ramsey.

The school's executive director Nathan Rose was fired a year ago after business officer Cyd Orneallas had resigned earlier.

Findings of the audit pointed to "gross mishandling of funds not related to the school," including spending on alcohol, guns parts and Disney Resorts transactions which may or may not have been school-related expenses.

"For example, someone that claimed for a conference and there was no conference... That would be one type of situation," said Ramsey.

The report by the Butte County Office of Education provides investigators a starting point but additional paperwork needs to be examined and more interviews need to be conducted if and before charges against Rose, Orneillas or anyone else affiliated with Blue Oak Charter School are filed.

"It's a fairly extensive investigation to see where we go from here," said Ramsey.

Ramsey said the investigation will take several months. Theft exceeding $950 would be considered a felony and could result in up to three years in county prison.

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