Sanders Requests Second Chance in School Lunch Lawsuit

Former professional football star Deion Sanders has asked a federal court in Texas to reject a default judgment against him in a lawsuit alleging the misuse of subsidized lunch funds at Prime Time Prep Academy, a charter school co-founded by Sanders and D.L. Wallace. The default judgment was entered because of the failure of Sanders’ attorney, John D. Nation, to respond in a timely fashion to an amended petition by plaintiff Lawrence Smith. Nation claims he received a copy of the amended petition in question, but confused it with a separate petition filed by Smith in a companion case and missed the deadline.

Smith claimed Prime Time Prep’s administration, primarily Sanders and Wallace, applied for and received nearly $1 million under the National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program, with no evidence the money was used for school lunches or for the benefit of needy children. The lawsuit arose out of a litany of issues surrounding the failure of Prime Time Prep, which Sanders touted as a top athletic and academic destination for students since its opening in 2012. Far from reaching the lofty goals set by Sanders, the school has failed at nearly every turn. In 2014, the Prime Time Prep elementary school was ranked dead last out of 1,068 elementary schools in the region for academic performance.

A default judgment in Smith’s favor would be a crippling blow to Sanders and the other defendants in the suit. Smith is requested $4.5 million in damages, triple the amount Smith says the government lost due to the alleged fraudulent scheme.

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