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Former school administrator, son, probed in theft of anti-poverty funds

The son of a disgraced former top administrator in Buffalo schools has been charged with stealing money intended to help the education of low-income people.

Hassan El Saddique is accused in federal court of submitting fraudulent invoices for services provided under federal Title 1 programs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Lynch said payment orders for $15,000 were signed by his mother, then-Assistant Superintendent Debbie Buckley. 

U.S. Attorney William Hochul said El Saddique could not have performed computer work at one school.

"Mr. Siddique never performed any sort of Title 1 computer service at the Universal School. The reason? The Universal School did not have a computer program. So Mr. Siddique would have been physically prevented from providing any sort of service, whatsoever," Hochul said at a news conference Tuesday.

Hochul said El Siddique volunteered as a tutor at Timon-St. Jude High School and billed the school board for computer instruction there. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Lynch says Buckley's name was signed to payment orders.

"Her signature is on some of the documents that were submitted in this case. And before being assistant superintendent and therefore responsible for all Title 1 funding, she specifically was the supervisor of Title 1 funding during a portion of this period," said Lynch.

Buckley was fired after an investigation of her handling of $100 million in federal grants which showed hundreds of thousands of dollars being directed to companies and individuals close to her.

The investigation is continuing.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.