Atlanta charter school founder sentenced in theft cases, ordered to pay $810,000 restitution

An Atlanta charter school founder entered guilty pleas in Fulton County Superior Court in two cases linked to thefts of at least $1.2 million, including money stolen from the schools he helped start.

Prosecutors brought two separate cases against Christopher Clemons, 39, listing among his wrong-doings that he improperly spent more than $50,000 at strip clubs and wrote two checks totaling more than $70,000 to pay off two BMW vehicles.

Judge Thomas Cox sentenced him Tuesday to 20-year sentence, with 10 years to be served in custody, with credit for about 21 months he’s already served, and the remainder on probation. He also ordered Clemons pay restitution of $810,000 -- an amount the prosecution and Clemons agreed to.

“I am deeply thoroughly overwhelmingly sorry. I am responsible for what has happened. I take responsibility for my actions, and I know that I allowed my own unchecked ego to lead me on a ludicrous adventure that led to absurd results that left a lot of people hurt,” Clemons told the judge Tuesday.

The first case, filed in 2016, includes 48 theft and forgery charges stemming from troubles at the now-shuttered Latin Academy Charter School, whose charter was authorized by Atlanta Public Schools. The second case, filed in September, added seven counts of theft and forgery related to problems at Latin Grammar School and Latin College Preparatory School. Both of those Fulton County schools are still open.

Clemons, who wore a baggy navy jail-issued top in court, responded with a clear and calm “guilty” to the 55 counts from both cases.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.