PITTSBURGH (AP) - The founder and former CEO of Pennsylvania's largest cyber-charter school has been charged with siphoning more than $8 million from the school through a network of companies, then scheming with his accountant to avoid income taxes.
Nicholas Trombetta surrendered to the FBI on Thursday on charges announced Friday in Pittsburgh. They stem from his tenure at The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which he founded in Midland in 2000, and from which he drew an annual salary between $127,000 and $141,000 during the years covered by the indictment, 2006 to 2012.
"As the founder and CEO of PA Cyber, Trombetta was a custodian of the public trust, receiving public funds," from local school taxes, state and federal subsidies, U.S. Attorney David Hickton said.
Trombetta's attorney didn't return calls and emails for comment.
Trombetta manipulated companies that he created and controlled to draw additional money from the school, which he spent on himself, real estate and a $300,000 plane, Hickton said.
Trombetta allegedly bought a Bonita Springs, Fla., condominium for $933,000, paid $180,000 for houses for his mother and girlfriend in Ohio, and spent $990,000 more for groceries and personal expenses, Hickton said.
The rest of the money was funneled through Avanti Management Group, which Hickton likened to Trombetta's "savings account, or rather, his retirement account."
For more, see Saturday's edition of The Review.