Feds lay out charges against PA cyber charter founder

Written by The Associated Press | Aug 23, 2013 11:52 AM

(Pittsburgh) -- The founder and former CEO of a cyber-charter school that educates more than 11,000 Pennsylvania students has been indicted by a federal grand jury. 

Fifty-eight-year-old Nicholas Trombetta is accused of siphoning more than $8 million from the school through a network of profit and non-profit companies he controlled. 

Akeia Conner, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal 
Investigation in the Philadelphia Field Office says Trombetta used 
public funds for personal purchases. “Keeping in mind that PA Cyber is a public entity, funded by local,  state, and federal revenues, Mr. Trombetta controlled and diverted corporate funds to purchase and manage real estate, airplanes, and to funnel money to himself and to others,” she says. 

Trombetta surrendered to authorities last night on the charges announced today by federal authorities. 

He allegedly bought a $1 million Florida condominium and houses for his girlfriend and mother, along with nearly $1 million on personal expenses, including groceries. 

United States Attorney David J. Hickton  says the indictment also accuses Trombetta of falsifying tax returns from 2007 to 2011.

"Trombetta and Prence shifted more than $8 million of income attributed 
to income to the tax returns of others, Elaine his sister and the straw 
owners, so that Trombetta’s true income was concealed from the taxing 
authorities,” he says.

Trombetta and his lawyer did not immediately return calls seeking comment about the charges. 

Prosecutors allege Trombetta tucked most of the money in a shell company for his retirement.  

This story has been updated. 

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