Cyber School Founder Accused Of Stealing Millions Pleads Not Guilty
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He’s charged with fraud and theft, accused of stealing millions in tax dollars.
The founder and former CEO of the Pa. Cyber Charter School, Nick Trombetta, was in court today where he pleaded not guilty and requested a trial by jury.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “Dr. Trombetta, how do you respond to these charges of fraud and theft?”
Attorney J. Alan Johnson: “We’re here to enter a not guilty plea to all the charges, so that would be his response.”
Trombetta will have an uphill fight trying to refute the government’s case that he diverted millions in taxpayer money for his own lavish lifestyle, which included a million in cash expenditures, a private airplane and a luxury condominium in Bonita Springs, Fla.
Sheehan: “What would be your defense? Is this not theft?”
Johnson: “I don’t talk about that at this point. That wouldn’t be appropriate.”
Sheehan: “Any answer to the taxpayers about what’s alleged in this indictment?”
Johnson: “We’ll address those issues at the time of trial.”
Over the course of four weeks, the government will try to prove that Trombetta funneled millions from the cyber school into a not-for-profit national network of digital school, and then into the for-profit Avanti Management Group along with other Trombetta-created companies.
The government indictment says he used them as his own ATM and purchased homes and other real estate and was aided by accountant Neal Prence, who was arraigned today on tax conspiracy charges.
“My only comment is he’s entered a plea of not guilty,” said attorney Stanton Levenson.