Nicholas Trombetta, founder of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, has been indicted by federal authorities on 11 fraud and tax charges.
Trombetta’s school is the largest cyber charter in the state and possibly the nation, with 10,000 students and annual revenues in excess of $100 million.
Prosecutors said that Trombetta had stolen nearly $1 million. He “is accused of creating entity after entity, ultimately controlling what prosecutors said was an intricate web of interlocking businesses whose purpose was to enrich himself, his sister and various associates.”
Trombetta’s attorney said he will plead not guilty.
“The indictment alleges that the former wrestling coach and school superintendent formed businesses that billed for doing no work; masked his control of a corporation by naming straw owners; hid income from the IRS; took $550,000 in kickbacks on a laptop computer contract with Virginia-based NCS Technologies Inc.; and even “caused” employees to make $40,000 in individual payments to his favored political candidates before reimbursing them through one of his companies.
Although no such charges have been filed, there is a federal statute that prohibits making campaign contributions in the name of another person, or what are referred to as “conduit political contributions.”
Prosecutors insisted they were not making any judgments about cyber charters, just about Mr. Trombetta’s financial dealings.
As we have learned from studies like the one conducted by CREDO and another by NEPC, cyber charters provide an inferior quality of education–high attrition rates, low graduation rates, low test scores.
But the money is really good for those who run the schools, so long as they don’t break the law.