Wednesday, March 30, 2016

GOVERNMENT'S MARCH 29, 2016 SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF RAISES DOUBTS OVER FINANCIAL CONTROLS AT GRAND TRAVERSE ACADEMY: Six-Figure Payoff From Mark Noss To Steven Ingersoll. Could The Gush Of 'Hush Money' Spur A Federal Money Laundering & Tax Evasion Investigation?

“After Ingersoll was indicted, in November of 2014, Brad Habermehl contacted a third party and tried to persuade that person to invest $300,000 with Ingersoll, supposedly for the development of a new school. 

On March 15, 2015, just days after Ingersoll had been found guilty of fraud-related offenses, Habermehl contacted the same third party and indicated that he and five others were still willing to invest in Ingersoll’s new school project. 

Habermehl has testified that Bruce Harger (another witness for Ingersoll) was one of those investors. 

These facts reflect negatively on the credibility of all concerned. 

In addition, four months after Habermehl made his March of 2015 attempt to raise funds for Ingersoll, one of Ingersoll’s defense attorneys moved to withdraw based on Ingersoll’s failure to pay attorney’s fees. 

Ingersoll’s remaining defense attorney has told the court and the government that his fees have not been paid in full by Ingersoll

These facts give rise to questions about the intended use of the money that Habermehl was attempting to raise for Ingersoll: Were Ingersoll and Habermehl intending to defraud the potential third party investor by using the $300,000, if obtained, for Ingersoll’s defense fund? 

Were Ingersoll and Habermehl intending to defraud Ingersoll’s defense attorneys, diverting Ingersoll’s own resources that should have been used to pay attorney fees to a new school project? 

Was Habermehl a knowing participant in whatever scheme Ingersoll was pursuing?”

As outlined in the excerpt above, the government's March 29, 2016 supplemental sentencing brief provided significant information about Steven Ingersoll's current financial status, along with newly-received evidence indicating Ingersoll has been and is currently receiving monthly payments of $12,500 from Mark Noss via Full Spectrum Management, LLC, (FSM) the company that now runs the Grand Traverse Academy. 

According to the prosecution, Steven Ingersoll’s current financial status is relevant to the sentencing phase of this case. (The sentencing hearing resumes next week, with testimony scheduled for April 4th and 5th.)

Ingersoll refused to provide current income and cash flow information to the court and the court’s probation officer during the preparation of his presentence report.  The government asserted in the March 29 filing that the new information provides yet another ground for the court to impose an additional two point enhancement for Ingersoll’s obstruction of justice. 

Ingersoll was directed by the court in a September 30, 2015 order  “to provide complete and accurate financial information to his probation officer, including but not limited to all assets, liabilities, income, and expenses resulting from transactions between Defendant and his agents, employees, partners, co-venturers, attorneys, family, friends and properties, entities and businesses that he owns or controls.” 

In the same order, the court directed Ingersoll “to provide copies of the complete and accurate financial information to the government and to this Court.” 

Well, if you've been paying attention, you know he defied the court order.

Quelle surprise! 

The government recently received evidence from Lake Superior State University revealing that Mark Noss, longtime friend and business associate of Steven Ingersoll, has been paying Ingersoll $12,500 per month since FSM took over the role of educational services provider for the Grand Traverse Academy in April of 2014. (I'm placing my marker right now, and betting that $12.5K is not the only stash of dead presidents regularly being slipped to Ingersoll by Noss. Just sayin'.)

As I've previously reported on this blog, Noss was still president when the Grand Traverse Academy board voted unanimously to withdraw from the management contract with Smart Schools Management, Inc. during an early morning meeting on March 19, 2014. In my opinion, it's clear that negotiations between Noss and Ingersoll that paved the way for Noss' takeover of the Grand Traverse Academy by FSM began while Noss was still board president.

An accountant for FSM disclosed the new information to Brad Habermehl and other members of the Grand Traverse Academy board on March 15, 2016 via an email, a story reported exclusively on this blog yesterday

Mark Noss responded to the accountant’s email on March 16, 2016, claiming that he has “for years and continue[s] to pay a proprietary fee for IVL’s Intellectual Properties that has allowed me to use it in my solely owned clinics, as well as more recently apply it in the GTA setting.” 

Christ on a crutch!  

Does Noss really expect anyone to believe his bullshit excuse? 

Not me! I know hush money when I smell it.

Wait, it gets better. In his March 16, 2016 email response (sent at 8:26am the next morning, likely after an all-night strategy session with Steven Ingersoll), Noss trots out this shoddy stinker:

“When I was awarded the management contract for GTA two years ago, I realized there was a tremendous amount of knowledge for me to acquire quickly. I have utilized Dr. Ingersoll’s 18 years of school management expertise as needed for the benefit of GTA. I assure you he has never had access to any of GTA’s accounts since FSM has become the management company.”

Somebody need to take a course in Fiction Writing 101. If this isn't just a business version of the fabled Alaska firedragon, I'll eat my... hat!

Let me get this straight: you want people to believe that although you've run an optometry business for decades, been on the Grand Traverse Academy board for many years, four of those as president and took over the school during a predawn coup, you still want slippery Steve (a convicted felon!) to hand-hold your ass? And you have to point out that Ingersoll hasn't had his hand in the till since you took over management of the school in 2014?

Boy, that's some comfort, especially coming from the schmuck who defended Ingersoll after he walked away from the Grand Traverse Academy with a lovely multi-million dollar parting gift!

You know, I was born at night...but not last night! But Mr. "Everyone Said It Was Fine; It's Common Accounting Practice" isn't done yet. 

In the March 16 response email, Noss claims he “was just made aware that you have been contacted by Full Spectrum Management’s (FSM) disgruntled previous employee, Richard Lowe, I apologize for involving you in this negative situation. I have been searching for his replacement ever since he verbally accosted my wife and threatened to “punch her”. I reluctantly kept him employed in the interim to prevent any financial risk to GTA.”

Wait, what?

Using the old cliche of the 'disgruntled' previous employee (as opposed to say a 'gruntled' previous employee?), Noss stoops to conquer by insisting he was forced to keep the accountant employed until he could replace him, even though he'd threatened his wife?

Threatened to punch her!

And why would there be financial risk to the GTA if Noss fired someone who (as he claims) threatened to assault his wife?

I've eaten Christmas fruitcakes that weren't as nutty as this excuse! But it just keeps getting better.

Responding to the whistleblower's allegation that he made a false statement during the December 17, 2015 GTA board meeting about his so-called business relationship with Ingersoll, Noss states in his email response:

“As I told the GTA Board in January, I have no formal business relationship with Dr. Steven Ingersoll. Integrated Visual Learning (IVL) was developed by Steven Ingersoll and I have used it in a variety of ways educationally and clinically. I have for years and continue to pay a proprietary fee for IVL’s Intellectual Properties that has allowed me to use it in my solely owned clinics, as well as more recently apply in in the GTA setting.”

Okay, I'll bite: as I revealed way back on December 4, 2014, Ingersoll and Noss co-own the copyright for the 1993 foundation text titled 'Integrated Vision Therapy', the foundation of what is now called IVL.

So tell me again why you would pay a 'proprietary fee' to Steven Ingersoll for an intellectual property you already own?

I'm waiting! 

And if you're wondering how Ingersoll so easily avoided taxes on that $300,000 he received from Noss, here's how they did it — directly from the prosecution's brief: although Ingersoll listed W-2 wages, he did not identify Form 1099 income from FSM (or other users of his intellectual property and his consulting services) in his most recent financial report provided in response to the court’s disclosure order. 

Instead of paying Steven Ingersoll or one of his myriad LLCs, which would require Noss to issue an IRS Form 1099, Noss paid 'Smart Schools Incorporated'.

If payments are made to a corporation, there's no IRS record of that income. It's up to the corporation to report its income to the IRS.

If Smart Schools Incorporated had been a 'sole proprietorship' or an 'LLC', instead of a corporation, a payment record would have been required for the IRS. (Hey, Ingersoll could have used 'Those Guys Consulting, LLC'!)

See how slippery this duo is? 

It's clear from the government filing that Ingersoll failed to include his receipt of $12,500 per month from FSM, yielding $150,000 per year, in the financial information received from Ingersoll by the government on October 15, 2015 in response to the court’s order.

On the contrary, for 2015, Ingersoll reported income from the liquidation of a 401K; from the sale of assets; from Farragut School, Madison Arts, Old Y, LLC, (NOTE: indicating Ingersoll was receiving rent payments for all three Bay City Academy locations, including the now-shuttered former YMCA building) and SSB (all of which are affiliated with the Bay City Academy rather than GTA/FSM); Webster House B&B; rental income from Bay City real property; approximately $7,600 in W-2 wages; and income of roughly $54,358 from SSM. 

Ingersoll also reported income of exactly $45,000 from SSI. Ingersoll has testified that SSI was ultimately the repository for his income from his intellectual property. Consequently, it appears that Ingersoll should have reported the $150,000 from Noss/FSM as income from SSI in 2015. 

Yet, Ingersoll reported to the court, his probation officer and the government that he received only $45,000 in income from unidentified sources via SSI in 2015. 

Though Ingersoll listed W-2 wages, he did not identify Form 1099 income from FSM (or other users of his intellectual property and his consulting services) in his most recent financial report provided in response to the court’s order. 

As Ingersoll has testified at length, he markets his IVL intellectual property and provides consulting services to a wide assortment of entities, in addition to FSM. Ingersoll’s own testimony, therefore, gives reason to suspect that Noss/FSM was not the only source of income to Ingersoll via SSI in 2015. 

Thus, while it is apparent that Ingersoll under-reported his income for 2015, the extent of Ingersoll’s under-reporting of his income is unknown. 

The government's filing provides the best gut-punch, wrapping it up like this:

The newly discovered evidence provided by the attached emails, in conjunction with the discussion above, lead to multiple conclusions that are relevant to Ingersoll’s sentencing, especially as the court is about to make findings based on the evidentiary hearings conducted, and yet to be concluded, regarding Steven Ingersoll. 

On one hand, the evidence reveals that Ingersoll has not been candid with the court, the court’s probation officer, nor the government regarding his income stream. 

Information regarding Ingersoll’s income is highly relevant to the court’s determination of various financial components Ingersoll’s sentence. 

Ingersoll has deprived the court of complete and accurate financial information needed to enable the court to fashion the financial components of Ingersoll’s sentences. Incarceration will not stop third parties such as FSM from using and paying for the use of Ingersoll’s intellectual property. 

Ingersoll’s decision to conceal information regarding that part of his income stream undoubtedly was intended by Ingersoll to impeded not only the sentencing authority of the court, but also the future collection efforts of the federal probation office, the victims of Ingersoll’s offenses (including the IRS), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

For these reasons, the newly discovered evidence provides a new and separate basis for the court to assess two additional points for obstruction of justice for Ingersoll. 

Additionally, the attached emails also are highly relevant because they reveal much about the relationships between Steven Ingersoll, Mark Noss and Brad Habermehl. 

Habermehl became president of the GTA board when Noss resigned to form FSM and become the educational services provider for GTA. 

The newly disclosed emails indicate that Habermehl, who testified at length on behalf of Ingersoll, received both the email from the accountant and Noss’s response. 

In assessing the credibility of Habermehl as a witness and Noss as an affiant in this matter, the court must consider the relationships they have with Ingersoll and how their financial and personal relationships with Ingersoll have influenced the representations that Habermehl and Noss have made to the court. 

The newly discovered evidence also is useful to the court in assessing the credibility of Steven Ingersoll. Ingersoll’s failure to disclose the fact that he has been receiving $12,500 per month from Noss for two years is not an accident. 

Given the regularity and continuing nature of the payments he received from Noss, Ingersoll cannot claim that he forgot about the payments as a result of the passage of time. 

Moreover, since Ingersoll has been deceitful regarding his current finances, there is no reason to accept his testimony regarding his convoluted finances during 2009, 2010 and 2011. 

Rather, Ingersoll’s always self-serving and often false testimony should be considered with great skepticism by the court. 

Indeed, the court should construe Ingersoll’s false testimony and inaccurate financial information adversely to Ingersoll when computing Ingersoll’s offense score under the federal sentencing guidelines and ultimately in imposing Ingersoll’s sentences in this matter. 

Miss Fortune will bring you the defense response to this March 29 prosecution brief as soon as it's made available!


  1. Well this is one chimpanzee that absolutely loves what you have exposed to our communities. Reading about Haegar being implicated in court, I have a question, didn't Haegar work for LSSU and was responsible for approving GTA and BCAs' charters? And now he is in business with these guys? And didn't Haegers son take over that position at LSSU? What a racket, there is another avenue that needs to be investigated. And Habermehl, I wonder how many LLC's he's got going to hide money. Looks like the whole ball of wax is unraveling. I guess we don't have to scratch our heads on this one. Instead, I will be swinging in the trees from sheer joy as each one of these crooks get taken down. Time to expose them all.

  2. Doesn't Nosh have to report to the US with a 1099 to Ingersoll which would make way he is doing against the law. I wonder how many times Noss has pulled that move.

    1. It's not against the law (just a loophole) for Mark Noss to make a payment to an Ingersoll corporate entity instead of Steven Ingersoll the person. The major exception to the 1099 requirement is payment to corporations, like Smart Schools Incorporated. Most payments to incorporated businesses do not require that you issue a 1099 form.