Fresno Unified under federal investigation related to construction of middle school

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Action News has learned Fresno Unified is under federal investigation related to the construction of the district's newest middle school. (KFSN)

Action News has learned Fresno Unified is under federal investigation related to the construction of the district's newest middle school.

The district built Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School under what's called a leaseback deal. A leaseback is when cash-strapped school districts can avoid the competitive bid process and award a project to a construction company, who in turn fronts the money, and the district can slowly pay back what they owe.

In the case of Gaston Middle School, Harris Construction got the $37 million project. But in June, an appeals court said the deal was illegal. A source told Action News Friday night that the U.S. Attorney's Office has subpoenaed district officials over the leaseback deal.

We caught up with Superintendent Michael Hanson at the Edison-Buchanan high school football game Friday night. We asked Hanson about the federal investigation.

"I've got a lot of things I'd love to be able to say about it, but we won't be able to say more until next week after our counsel has done more review of the situation," Hanson said.

"Can you at least confirm that you've been subpoenaed?" Action News anchor Liz Harrison asked Hanson.

"What I can tell you is that our counsel, we have to do more work with our counsel before we're going to talk about any of it," Hanson replied.

Our district source tells us the U.S. Attorney's Office has asked for paperwork from way back -- all related to leaseback, and they're casting a wide net.
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