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Monday, May 23, 2016

TRIAL OF CHARTER SCHOOL FOUNDER COSTS TAXPAYERS A BUNDLE: Taxpayers Pick Up The Tab For Habermehl Legal Representation, Even Though He's A Defense Witness! Board President Brad Habermehl (You're Fired!) Slapped With $155, 969.40 First Merit Bank Default Judgment Just Days After Testifying For The Defense During Steven Ingersoll's Sentencing Hearing! Multiple Board Member Bankruptcies!

Anita Senkowski
Glistening, Quivering Underbelly

Grand Traverse Academy Board picks up tab for legal fees to represent Habermehl; spends tens of thousands to investigate Ingersoll's multi-million dollar embezzlement...then completely ignores costly advice!

On December 8, 2015, Grand Traverse Academy board president Brad Habermehl returned to the stand in U. S. District Court in Bay City after testifying in late October. 

Although Habermehl was testifying as a defense witness, the Grand Traverse Academy Board (using taxpayer dollars) paid the lawyer who accompanied and represented Habermehl that day, as it had in October.

But Habermehl had a six-figure secret, one that remained hidden until recently: on November 30, 2015, First Merit Bank filed a complaint against him in Genesee County Circuit Court.

Habermehl was personally served on December 29, 2015.

On January 13, 2016, First Merit successfully received a judgment against Habermehl for $155,969.40.

Could the significant money troubles of current and former board members (including the stunning May 25, 2012 bankruptcy filing of a board member shown above) have influenced the financial mess at the Grand Traverse Academy?

Will the board's outrageous legal expenses help sink the school's planned expansion? 

In Part 1 of a multi-part examination of the Grand Traverse Academy board's legal expenses, Miss Fortune discovers taxpayers paid for an attorney from the board's law firm, Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak, P. C., to accompany Brad Habermehl to United States District Court in Bay City...while he testified as a defense witness! 

There is little evidence of responsible governance by the Grand Traverse Academy board and a clear lack of fiscal accountability. While board members are required to abstain from decisions that materially affect their personal financial interests, it appears that former board president Brad Habermehl figured out a way to do just that.

As you can see from the legal invoices shown below (billing descriptions have been redacted because of attorney-client privilege), Habermehl was represented on October 21, 2015 and the next day, October 22.

Based on the firm's $325 hourly rate, the services provided to Habermehl for just those two days exceeded $6,000 ($6,142.50, to be exact).

And he didn't pay the bill...you did! 

In addition, the legal bill for Habermehl's December 8, 2015 infamous $300,000 loan solicitation testimony on behalf of his “friend and colleague” Steven Ingersoll cost another $1,397.50.

But Habermehl didn't pay that one either...you did!

In Part 2 of my exclusive examination, Miss Fortune digs into the impact recent bankruptcy filings by current and former board members may have had on the Grand Traverse Academy's finances.

And in Part 3, Miss Fortune examines the small fortune spent investigating Steven Ingersoll by the Grand Traverse Academy board in 2013 and ponders why the board ignored that pricey legal advice.