Founded by Joe's mother, Carolynne Mather, in Lakeland, the company has earned more than $119,000 in the past two years tutoring children in Hillsborough and Polk counties.
In January, Mather told the Times she included Joe, now 42, in corporate paperwork because she listed family members as directors of her company. She stressed that Joe, released from prison last year and now a registered sex offender, was not involved with her business.
The company still is tutoring in Florida schools. Joe remained a director until June.
Dawud Brown, 34, pleaded guilty in 2008 to two counts of felony check fraud but skipped out on his probation.
He was listed as a fugitive when he became a director of Aspire Innovative Learning Inc., a Clearwater nonprofit that earned more than $33,000 last year from Pinellas County schools. Brown couldn't be reached for comment. Calls to his company's phone number during a two-week period were met with a busy signal. A company representative didn't respond to emails.
This year, Brown's company is tutoring again. He still is a wanted man.
Education officials across the state said these cases alarmed them.
"The vetting process is not as good as it should be. We need to tighten it up," said T. Willard Fair, former chairman of the state Board of Education and an outspoken advocate for subsidized tutoring. "There can be no acceptable rationale for not doing it. We cannot give the impression that anything goes in this process."
After companies win state approval as tutoring contractors, there's little to stop them from ripping off school districts.
In 2009, Erika Robinson's nonprofit was making about $1 million a year tutoring at a handful of Miami-Dade County schools. As head of the business, Robinson paid herself more than $186,000 a year, district investigators later would find.
Her success had nothing to do with quality tutoring, the investigators alleged in an arrest affidavit filed in 2011.
Instead, they said, Robinson, 36, ran a brazen fraud scheme, filing suspicious enrollment papers and bilking the school district out of more than $130,000. Robinson has pleaded not guilty. Her case is pending in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
Hers wasn't the only company accused of turning in suspect forms or inflated invoices.
Records kept by the Education Department and school districts across Florida chronicle widespread problems. But no regulator has examined those records to look for bad actors.
A Times review of audits, contract documents and written complaints filed since 2010 found at least 40 cases statewide in which companies were accused of faking or altering enrollment forms or billing for tutoring that didn't happen. Only two of those cases led to criminal charges.
In Broward County, employees of Touchdown Learning forged student signatures and filed invoices for students they never tutored, schools administrators charged.
In Hernando County last spring, JFK Tutoring sent its employees instructions to falsify attendance records and bill for lessons that never happened, the district said.
In Miami-Dade County last year, one company faked enrollment forms that were supposed to be impossible to forge, tracking down the district's supplier of a special paper and hiring a designer to fake the district's logo, officials said.
A Touchdown representative couldn't be reached. JFK officials denied the allegation.
In 2011, in a spot check of five counties, including Hillsborough, the state Education Department flagged "invoice errors" made by 10 of 21 companies.
"We have had providers do all kinds of things," said Diana Holden, whose office oversees tutoring contracts for Collier County schools. "We've been billed for hours that never occurred, and we find out when the parents call us and ask when tutoring is going to start, and we've already paid for 10 or 15 hours of tutoring."
Parents sometimes call to complain their child never was tutored, but they later change their story. "We believe that in some of those cases, the provider might have contacted the parent and offered them something," said Bernadette Montgomery, whose office oversees tutoring contracts in Miami-Dade schools.
Despite repeated problems, Florida school administrators say they often give tutoring companies the benefit of the doubt, treating billing errors as honest mistakes.
"It's amazing how many people can't count minutes," said Eugenia Gordon, whose office oversees tutoring contracts in Bay County schools.