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Sunday, February 8, 2015


The Detroit Free Press has finally covered the multi-faceted mosaic that is the Steve Ingersoll/Grand Traverse Academy federal fraud story.

While the story, by Jennifer Dixon, doesn't plow much new ground, there is one stunning nugget that even your girl Miss Fortune had not dug up: a March 18, 2014 email from Mark Noss to Kaye Mentley and unspecified “others” (likely fellow members of the Grand Traverse Academy board) revealing how much the nervous Noss personally feared media exposure and the royal stink of the Academy's festering financial bowels hitting the fan.

With his Excel Management business partner, Steven Ingersoll, about to be indicted by the feds and with the taint of scandal lap, lap, lapping at his door, fraidy cat Noss insisted that “we must be proactive and put me in charge a new management company in place before the media gets ahold of it.” 

Hey, isn't that secret, scheming email an Open Meetings Act violation 

That new management company” that Noss referred to—it was his!

And that “media”? That turned out to be Miss Fortune herself, and not the local fish wrapper!

Lynch, Noss & Solo cups
Dixon also calls out what Miss Fortune has called “the friends and family plan” quid pro quo cronyism rampant in the Smart Schools/Full Spectrum world, singling out the selection of Brian Lynch (Mark Noss' son-in-law) to run the Bay City Academy. Lynch was hand-picked by the federally-indicted Ingersoll.

Ingersoll's Traverse City attorney, Jan Geht, is quoted in the Free Press article claiming that Ingersoll's hope is once he defeats the indictment and everyone realizes he's an innocent man, he can re-enter the charter school management world and pay the $1.6 million.” 

Miss Fortune wonders why, if Ingersoll is still reaping the roughly $250,000 per year from his janitorial subsidiary, GTAS, LLC, that money couldn't be used to help pay off his debt? 

Or maybe some of the nearly $450,000 early, in-service distributions Ingersoll has withdrawn from the Smart Schools Management LLC 401K plan during the calendar years 2012 and 2013?

But as I revealed months ago on this blog, Geht was singing from the other side of his mouth in July 2014.  Geht drafted a proposed settlement agreement and sent it to Academy attorney Kerry L. Morgan for review. 

Morgan had replaced Doug Bishop as the Academy's “counsel of record” prior to Bishop's formal July 21 resignation.  In a resignation letter to Academy Board president Brad Habermehl, Bishop explained he did not wish to continue as counsel of record for the Academy, a move he said was “agreeable to the Board”.

The Geht-drafted settlement agreement sought to release Ingersoll and Smart Schools Management from having to repay the outstanding $1.6 million owed to the Academy—with the threat of a countersuit.

Here's an excerpt:
The Board, recognizing the hazards (and unwelcome publicity) of litigation and all the support that SSM has shown to the Academy over the years, agrees to release the SSM from any obligation to reduce the Non-Spendable Fund Balance of approximately $1.6 million in return for the SSM’s agreement to release the Board and the Academy from any claim relating to the cumulative difference between the contractual management fee and the actual management fee (of approximately $2.8 million) that SSM may be legally entitled to as a result of the Reimbursement Resolution.

The story appears in today's printed edition of the Detroit Free Press and online.

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