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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

TOO BIG TO FAIL?: Grand Traverse Academy, Under Management Of Steven Ingersoll, On Verge Of Mortgage Default; Where Was The Board?

Oil executive John Paul Getty is frequently attributed with saying: “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” 

That pithy quotation means that if someone owes a bank a large amount of money, it is no longer that person’s fate at risk, but also the bank’s fate. 

The bank realizes that it has a financial interest in waiting for better times and seeing that its large creditor does well, rather than pressing immediately for a few pennies on each borrowed dollar.

The phrase became very popular in the 1990s and 2000s and was frequently applied to the United States government and large American firms “too big to fail.”

The following email thread was among a group of documents released yesterday in Steven Ingersoll's federal tax fraud case.

In this exchange, Dan Stahl of Traverse City State Bank gives Ingersoll a gentle push, informing him that the Grand Traverse Academy's mortgage officially arrived at “delinquent” status. (Late payments can trigger a cascade of adverse actions, including late fees and a less-than-perfect smudge on your credit report.)

Ingersoll unleashed the humblebrag/implicit threat method he utilized in his June 16, 2013 response to former Grand Traverse Academy board attorney Doug Bishop's June 13, 2013 demand for payment of the $3,548,319 he owed the Traverse City charter school. 

In that 2013 response, Ingersoll sidestepped any discussion on his apparently inappropriate usage of public money, sternly chastising Bishop and reminding him that “the financial relationship between the Grand Traverse Academy and Smart Schools Management has been symbiotic from the inception of the Academy”. But what may have begun as “symbiotic” deteriorated and became parasitic — if one goes down, then we all do. 

From Ingersoll's comments to Stahl, it appears that the Academy had so far insinuated itself into a position of interdependence with the bank that blurred lines may have been crossed.

In his response to Stahl, Ingersoll uses the “you’ve got as much on the line as I do” leverage, stating that “it is my desire to seek a $2.5mm GTA SAAN from TCSB (along with an affiliated bank, if necessary) in March 2012.” 

Too big to fail? 

You bet it was! 

Within days of this email exchange, the Grand Traverse Academy issued its FYE June 30, 2011 financial statement, revealing a $2,500,000 “accounts receivable from related parties”.

In case you need to be reminded, that party was Steven Ingersoll.

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