The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School today released documents further chronicling nearly half a million dollars in spending on legal bills spurred by the federal grand jury probe of its founder and various subcontractors.
The Post-Gazette reported Monday that the online public school, based in the Beaver County town of Midland, hired attorneys to protect its interests, those of founder Nick Trombetta who resigned from his post of CEO in June 2012, and those of seven employees.
Records released today indicate that the school also paid for attorneys to represent longtime board member Edward Elder; its board's lawyer, Timothy Barry; and computer entrepreneur Joseph Rodella.
Mr. Elder was represented by attorney Olga M. Salvatori, at a cost of $3,300. Mr. Barry hired attorney Katie Recker, and the school paid $27,678. Mr. Rodella retained Patrick Thomassey, who billed the school $4,750.
Mr. Rodella's firm, RoData Inc., which specializes in videoconferencing, did $4 million in work for PA Cyber from 2005 through 2012, according to records obtained by the Post-Gazette. Mr. Rodella was also a PA Cyber board member from 2008 to 2011. In some cases, Mr. Trombetta requested RoData's services, records indicate, and the purchases were made through a state-run purchasing system called CoStars.
The new documents show that Mr. Trombetta, who faces an 11-count federal indictment, is among numerous employees who pledged to pay the school back for his legal counsel under circumstances that are not detailed in the documents. PA Cyber declined to release the letter outlining the repayment terms, saying they are subject to attorney-client privilege.
The documents indicate that PA Cyber paid attorney Robert Stewart $104,647 to protect its interests, and a total of $445,339 for all involved attorneys through August.
Mr. Trombetta, of East Liverpool, Ohio, has pleaded not guilty to mail fraud, theft or bribery from a program receiving federal funds, tax conspiracy and filing a false tax return. All are related to alleged diversion of around $1 million from the school, through management firms and into a web of other businesses controlled by Mr. Trombetta.
On Tuesday his sister, Elaine Trombetta Neill, of Aliquippa, pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.
Mr. Trombetta's accountant, Neal Prence, of Koppel, has been charged with tax conspiracy and has pleaded not guilty.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord First Published October 9, 2013 12:57 PM