PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Founder and CEO of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and his accountant have been indicted on multiple charges.
Nick Trombetta was once heralded as an education visionary. Now he faces up to 100 years in prison and is charged with stealing $8 million in public money.
The 58-year-old surrendered himself to authorities Thursday night, as did accountant Neal Prence.
Trombetta created a cyber school empire, saying he wanted to help students.
But prosecutors say Trombetta kept the spoils — $8 million, a corporate plane, expensive homes and sprawling real estate holdings.
“The indictment describes in detail a number of schemes employed by Trombetta to get public dollars out of Pa. Cyber for his own personal use and benefit,” US Attorney David Hickton said.
The indictment says he created dummy businesses and fake tax returns to line his pockets with taxpayer money.
Midland Borough Council President Paul Anthony would consider himself friends with Nick Trombetta. He was a supporter of Trombetta and the wonderful work he had done to improve Beaver County and Midland Borough. But now Anthony worries that this will negatively affect the progress they’ve made.
“I don’t feel betrayed by him, maybe disillusioned but not betrayed,” said Anthony. “I’ve never seen the indictment so I don’t want to make any wrong assumptions, but I can say I’m upset with the publicity he has brought to our area.”
The two have not spoken since July of 2012 but Anthony expresses his true sadness for this incident but faith that justice will prevail.
“I am a true believer in the justice system and will support it wherever it leads, they won’t open any doors they can’t close,” said Anthony. “I just don’t want to see anything ruin our progress.”
Listen to Paul Anthony on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:
Earlier this month, Trombetta’s sister Elaine Trombetta Neill was accused of filing false tax returns in 2010. Investigators say she deducted more than $90,000 for a business called “One 2 One,” which is registered to a home once owned by her brother Nick.
Last year, Trombetta was also the target of a federal grand jury investigation after it was suspected he got rich using taxpayer money.
The cyber school has grown to more than 10,000 students with an annual budget of more than $100 million.
Both Trombetta and Prence are out on $50,000 bond.
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