PENSACOLA, Fla. - Following the filing of racketeering and fraud charges against two Ohio men accused of siphoning public money from charter schools in six Florida counties, the charter school management company itself has been indicted on several charges.
Newpoint Education Partners, LLC (“Newpoint”), which formerly managed charter schools in Escambia, Bay, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Pinellas Counties; and School Warehouse and Red Ignition, which were vendors used by Newpoint, have been charged in Escambia County with thefts of hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds in connection with fraudulently billing charter schools for computers, furniture, equipment, and curriculum services and then laundering the proceeds of the thefts through multiple bank accounts to conceal the alleged crimes.
Marcus May, owner of Newpoint, is facing fraud and racketeering charges as a result of an investigation into the misuse of millions of dollars in state grants given to his company to run charter schools.
Prosecutors say May obtained millions of dollars in state grants from 2008 to 2015 through “grossly over-estimated enrollment figures” at charter schools, and over-inflated the cost of educational equipment to be purchased.
The money was spent on a down payment on a home, homeowners association fees, the lease of a car, country club dues, credit card payments and other personal expenses.
According to the charging affidavit, May obtained a $350,000 grant to run a charter school in Duval County, where he said there were 225 students. In fact, there were only 54. May is not yet in custody.
The owner of a business that sold equipment to Newpoint Education Partners is also charged in the scheme.
Last year, a grand jury indicted Newpoint Education Partners, as well as three other vendors.
State Attorney Bill Eddins alleged in a release that May obtained more than $1 million in public money from the schools, and used proceeds to acquire property and pay for plastic surgery and cruises.
Stephen Kunkemoeller, the owner of School Warehouse Inc., was also charged.
Attorney David McGee, who represents May, told the Florida Times-Union that the expenditures were proper because his client earned that money from his companies.
San Jose Prep Academy in Jacksonville was formerly under the management of Newpoint Education Partners, but decided to cut ties with the company about a year ago.
Alan Hall, the executive director of San Jose Prep Academy, told News4Jax that the school has moved on from its past ties.
"Our kids and stakeholders, parents, families, community members -- they've been supportive. They realized that those issues have nothing to do with us here at the school at the local level," Hall said. "Everyone wanted to talk about the issues at hand and not what was going on here, inside the building, with the education and the work being done by our great teaching staff and administration. We've had to, kind of, educate them (that) the management company does their thing and we're doing our thing here."
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