When Frank Tassone was arrested in 2004 for embezzling millions of dollars from the Roslyn school district in New York, he wasn’t anywhere near the state. In fact, he wasn’t even on the eastern seaboard — he was in Henderson, Nevada, per the Las Vegas Sun‘s news briefs. Why he was in Nevada at the time of his arrest is addressed in Bad Education — the dramatized HBO film based on Tassone’s time as the Roslyn School District Superintendent — but to really understand why he was in Nevada, you have to factor in who he was there to see. Which according to Bad Education is his former student-turned-lover, Kyle Contreras (Rafael Casal). But is Contreras based on a real person?
Before we even meet Contreras in the film, Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is already well into his embezzlement scheme alongside his partner-in-crime Pamela Gluckin (Allison Janney). According to Vanity Fair, they set up a series of fake companies to charge the Roslyn school district money for services and supplies that would never happen or show up. The money went to them, and Tassone would spend his on things like apartment fees, and luxury vacations.
It’s on one of these vacations that we meet Contreras, a love interest for Tassone. Contreras is a former student of Tassone’s who becomes a dancer after moving on from school. Despite their age difference, they hit it off and become involved romantically, with Tassone splitting his time between New York City and Las Vegas. Eventually he buys a house for Contreras, which is where the film shows Tassone being arrested.
Bad Education paints a partially true-to-life portrait of the man Tassone shared a romantic relationship with in Las Vegas. That said, it does diverge from the truth in a few places. For starters, Kyle Contreras isn’t the name of Tassone’s Nevada-based former partner. According to Slate, Contreras is actually based on a man named Jason Daugherty, who met Tassone when he was 32-years-old and working as an exotic dancer. The two did indeed meet on one of Tassone’s trips to Las Vegas, and appeared to have a years-long relationship. Long enough that Tassone would also go on to purchase a home for Daugherty in Nevada.
However, there is one inaccuracy that particularly bothers Tassone to this day, according to a recent interview he had with Mike Bayer for the "Coach Mike" podcast. "When I went to Vegas I did meet someone, but what bothered me terribly, was [they were] never a former student," Tassone shared.
Beyond that, details about Daugherty remain scant, as he has mostly been able to stay out of the spotlight following Tassone’s arrest.
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