A former charter school principal was sentenced Wednesday for stealing nearly $153,000 from a Waipahu charter school.
Jeffrey Piontek was initially charged with two counts of first-degree theft and three counts of second-degree theft for stealing $136,099 from Hawaii Technology Academy.
According to the attorney general’s office, the money was spent on personal expenses, including flights, limo service, and first-class upgrades.
Piontek pleaded no contest to those charges.
During the course of the investigation, a second incident of theft was uncovered in which he used a contractor to work on his home and billed it to the school, for a total of $16,791.
In that case, he agreed to plead guilty to second-degree theft while three additional charges were dismissed.
He apologized in court Wednesday:
“It is with deepest and most humble remorse that I apologize for my poor lack of judgment while I was head of school at Hawaii Technology Academy. Such decisions have hurt and harmed many and my actions, although not reversable, have taught me an invaluable lesson, and a grateful lesson for one thing. Education and working with students, and serving students’ families and the community at large has always been my passion. It is unfortunate that a path of inexcusable choices hurt so many people and cost me everything. Yet the greater lesson learned is one that taught me humility, patience, true remorse and an appreciation for life and my loved ones. Your Honor, this lesson has truly changed me. I’m dedicated to give back to the community, to help others and teach my own children that every decision they make has an action, good or bad, and has an outcome, so you must choose wisely. I am fully committed to righting these wrongs by continuing my work in education and I will work to pay back the restitution I owe. Again, please accept my most deepest apologies, and know that I am truly sorry for what I have done.”
As part of his sentence, Piontek will have to pay the school back, but in monthly installments.
“It’s at $200 a month, so it’s going to be quite a long time before the restitution is paid in a meaningful way to the school to help with their expenses,” said deputy attorney general Albert Cook.
Piontek was also sentenced to four years of probation, and no additional jail time.
“The state is disappointed in the sentence. In this case, we feel that this deserved jail just because of the nature of the offense,” Cook said.
Piontek requested to serve his jail time in California, where he was initially arrested.