Kansas files suit against New Jersey firm over textbook scam

Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a lawsuit this week against a New Jersey company for falsely billing Kansas schools for textbooks, which they never ordered.

Schmidt petitioned a Shawnee County District Court on Wednesday to order Robert Armstrong, a man doing business as Scholastic School Supply in Franklinville, N.J., to pay $634,000 in damages for false bills sent to 317 Kansas schools for books, which they neither ordered nor received.

One Wichita school, Southeast High School, did get a letter from the company, according to a district spokeswoman, but did not send any money. School officials contacted district officials, who sent a memo to all of the schools in the district, the spokeswoman said.

An investigation by the Consumer Protection Division of the Kansas Attorney General’s office found that school districts across the state received false invoices from September through December from Scholastic School Supply, according to a release from the Attorney General’s office.

“Falsely billing Kansas public school districts is an attempt to defraud Kansas taxpayers and a serious violation of the law,” Schmidt said in the release. “We take seriously our responsibility to protect taxpayers from this sort of misconduct by vigorously enforcing the Kansas False Claims Act.”

According to the Better Business Bureau’s website, it has recorded 102 complaints against Scholastic School Supply. The BBB website says that all of the invoices were for bulk purchases of language arts practice books or math workbooks in the amount of $647.50.

Contributing: Anthony Williams of The Eagle.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.