The gelded press — a compliant media that prints what it's told, no matter how wrong or insane.
Just imagine if someone had closely examined the affidavits provided by Mark Noss (can someone please tell me why this guy was not called to testify during the Ingersoll sentencing hearing?), and compared his claims with the testimony of other characters in the long-running farce known as the Steven Ingersoll sentencing hearing.
Well, while you were sleeping, Miss Fortune went fishing...and look what I snagged in my net: shiny contradictions, flip-flopping fabrications and maybe even a shameless lie or two.
In the first of two affidavits Noss submitted in the Steven Ingersoll case (the September 10, 2015 excerpt shown at left), the former president of the Grand Traverse Academy and now head gravy-sopper at Full Spectrum Management makes a number of unreliable statements. In additions, many of the assertions Noss made are directly contradicted by the statements — and trial testimony — of other witnesses.
Here are the statements made by Mark Noss in his September 10, 2015 affidavit, along with my comments:
1. From 2009 to 2014, I was the President of the board of education of Grand Traverse Academy (GTA).
2. During that time, I was aware of the fact that SSM extended financial support to GTA on an annual basis in the form of rebated Management fees and facility lease payments. This financial support was discussed at board meetings many times as evidenced by the documents produced to GTA by Dr. Ingersoll on or about January 22, 2015.
[NOTE: The documents Noss refers to have not been made public, so it's impossible to know what "evidence" they contain.]
3. In July 2012, upon my telephonic query, GTA’s auditor, Tony Henning, indicated that GTA’s accounting methodology of booking rebated management fees and lease amounts as related party receivables was proper and acceptable.
[NOTE: In his grand jury testimony, Henning paints a radically different picture of what the board knew and when its members knew it, including president Mark Noss.
On June 19, 2013, Henning testified before the grand jury empanelled to review Ingersoll's criminal complaint and determine whether he should be charged. The examination of Henning was questioned by Assistant U. S. Attorney Janet Parker and members of the grand jury.
Henning's wide-ranging testimony included this snippet, focusing on the board's awareness (or lack) of Steven Ingersoll's multi-million dollar debt:
GRAND JUROR: Was the board surprised that the school, that this entity Steve Ingersoll, Smart Schools, was the board surprised that he owed them $3 million?
HENNING: Yes they were.
GRAND JUROR: And as the auditor hired by –
HENNING: The board.
GRAND JUROR: -- the board don’t you think, were you marginally embarrassed that they were surprised?
HENNING: Of course I am, of course.
GRAND JUROR: Okay.
HENNING: I have nothing to hide, ma’am, but yes I regret not asking more about that.
Q: The board’s reaction collectively and individually was one of concern rather than we knew this all along?
Q: And did that include the president of the board, Mr. Noss?
It's unclear from Henning's testimony the meeting date he's referring to, but an in-depth review of the GTA's board meeting minutes produced the November 2, 2012 report revealing Henning was in attendance. The minutes show the 2012 audit was discussed, just not what was said.]
4. Tony Henning was engaged and paid as GTA’s auditor by the GTA board not by SSM or Steve Ingersoll.
[NOTE: Henning testified to the grand jury that he met Ingersoll in 2002, and worked with him auditing financials for the Charyl Stockwell Academy in Livingston County. Mark Noss worked with Ingersoll on the formation of that charter school.]
5. I agree that the document labeled “History of Grand Traverse Academy” that the GTA board posted on its website in 2014 fairly and accurately reflects the historical relationship between SSM and GTA.
[NOTE: That is, if the "historical relationship" is the gospel according to Steven Ingersoll. Brad Habermehl acknowledged during his sentencing hearing testimony that the information regarding an off-set used in the “history” he manufactured and posted on the GTA website was obtained from Ingersoll. Similarly, Heidi Wendell, the forensic auditor from DGN, testified that she received the conflicting information regarding the claimed offsets in Ingersoll’s emails to her. Ingersoll also testified that he had provided the (often conflicting) numbers regarding the various off-sets that he now claims.]
6. It was contemporaneously my understanding that the GTA board agreed as expressed in its May 4, 2012 reimbursement resolution to retrospectively and prospectively extend SSM an amount equal to 12% of its total revenue for management services as GTA’s financial condition allowed. Both parties agreed that GTA’s programmatic excellence was the first priority and that the repayment by GTA to SSM would come only if it would not jeopardize the programmatic excellence.
[NOTE: The Academy Board passed a resolution on May 4, 2012 maintaining a management fee cap at 12 percent of revenue, among other things. As you can see above, the resolution “gratefully” acknowledged the many contributions, financial and otherwise, of SSM and Ingersoll. If you read closely, however, the resolution reveals the Academy Board agreed that it intended “to extend to Smart Schools Management, Inc. its financial resources in an amount equal to 12% of total revenue as financial conditions allow.”
You know what they say about good intentions — the road to hell is paved with them.]
7. Based on my extensive knowledge of the relevant matters, the conclusion reached by Meg Hackett and the Thrun law firm is simply erroneous and inconsistent with the ultimate conclusion reached by the accountants.
[NOTE: Sent to the Board by attorney Meg Hackett on May 30, 2013, the Thrun letter did much more than just raise “concerns about the prepaid fees”, and urged Board members to act quickly. However, Mark Noss dubbed the letter “inflammatory” and claimed a forensic audit later showed there was potential for an abuse of funds, not an actual abuse. Although Dennis, Gartland & Niergarth performed a forensic examination of select transactions relating to Steven Ingersoll and the Grand Traverse Academy in September 2013, it was not a forensic audit — and never addressed “abuse”. The once confidential 15-page legal analysis, released publicly by government prosecutors as an exhibit in Steven Ingersoll's ongoing sentencing hearing, was delivered to the Grand Traverse Academy Board 13 months before Ingersoll was indicted. The letter revealed Ingersoll had secretly opened a second general fund bank account, manipulated financial records (with a series of furtive bank transfers) to make it appear he had repaid his massive debt in 2011, and asked the Board to characterize his $3.5 million dollar debt as a "loan" because he “needed” it.]
8. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Meg Hackett was not retained by the GTA board. She was retained by Kaye Mentley. While the board ultimately paid Meg Hackett, it did so out of professional courtesy. GTA subsequently severed its relationship with Ms. Hackett.
[NOTE: In a February 25, 2015 affidavit (shown above), Hackett stated the Thrun law firm was retained by the Grand Traverse Academy in September 2009, and retained that attorney-client relationship from year-to-year to date.
In addition, Hackett testified during Ingersoll's criminal trial about her client:
Q. So the discussion was a discussion involving all the people you just mentioned, Dr. Noss, Kaye Mentley, yourself, as the lawyer, representing Kaye Mentley and the Grand Traverse Academy, right?
A. Not representing Kaye Mentley.
Q. You didn’t represent Kaye Mentley?
A. No. She was employed by Smart Schools.
Q. OK. But didn’t she at some point come to you for this opinion?
A. No. Mark Noss, the board president.
Q. Mark Noss, the president of the board, came to you for this opinion?
So, is Mark Noss a lying sack?
What...you need more information to make up your mind?
Check back on Wednesday...there's more to this story!
*Kaye Mentley's contention that the Grand Traverse Academy had some sort of retainer relationship with Thrun is backed up by the testimony of Meg Hackett, given under cross-examination by Ingersoll's former attorney, Martin Crandall, during the federal fraud trial.