In the cold, harsh glare of the shocking emails emerging yesterday during Steven Ingersoll's sentencing hearing, it appears we know more about the relationship between Brad Habermehl (President of the Grand Traverse Academy Board of Directors) and Ingersoll, a hush-hush, cash-fueled relationship that continued even after Ingersoll was convicted in federal court in March.
And that knowledge could help us all understand this exchange between Ingersoll's attorney, Jan Geht, and Habermehl from October 21.
Q. As you sit here today, is it still your understanding that no one has ever uncovered any cash withdrawals or transfers that were unaccounted for in the accounting system?
A. That is correct. There's no unauthorized withdrawals taken out of or transferred out of the accounting system.
Q. If we go to the bottom of the forensic -- of page 4 of the forensic report in the summary comments it states, "It appears SSM" -- in the second sentence, "It appears SSM takes cash advances for their management fee each year in the beginning of the school year based on the budgeted figure. At the time it is realized GTA cannot afford the management fee, the fee is adjusted downward in the school's budget, but the advances are not repaid at that time." Do you see that?
Q. Is that consistent with the -- as you sit here today, is that still consistent with your understanding of the management fee rebate process?
A. That is correct.
Q. Okay. And were you aware of this process before receiving this October 13 forensic report?
Q. And were you aware of the process before Meg Hackett's letter?
Q. And what was -- by -- in what way did you acquire that knowledge?
A. That was discussed at each board meeting. Of course, we were very aware of it. The big excitement part is that we had a management team that when we were short at the end of the year, and we were looking like we were going to have a deficit, that Steve, in his passion for the school, would step forward and offer a rebate on his 12 percent that we were contract -- in contract with him with. So he -- he then would pledge that money back; and, of course, he would wait for the funds to come from the state the following year to be able to make that pledge good.
Q. And in terms of the board discussions, and I want to stress this point, this was discussed at the board meetings you were present at?
A. It was discussed at every board meeting. It was very transparent.
Would it have been impolite to ask about the Academy's secret Fifth Third Bank account, whose existence was revealed to the Grand Traverse Academy board in Meg Hackett's May 30, 2013 "Thrun letter". not Steven Ingeroll?
Or to note that the Grand Traverse Academy's management contract with Ingersoll's Smart Schools Management did not include a fee pegged at a percentage of revenue because (according to the IRS) it could be seen as an impermissible private benefit to the management company?
And why so excited about a management company that wouldn't return part of its too-large fee to the Grand Traverse Academy until taxpayers filled the school's coffers again?
Am I missing something here?