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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

THE STENCH OF STEVE: Shady Financial Specter Still Haunts The Grand Traverse Academy

What happens when you have a funeral, but neglect to bury the body?

One of two things: you're either haunted or that damn corpse just hangs around stinking up the place

The Grand Traverse Academy's board of directors held its version of a funeral for Ingersoll when it voted unanimously to “withdraw from the management contract with Smart Schools Management, Inc.” during an early morning meeting on March 19, 2014.

Minutes later, the Board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of “Mark Noss as the President of the Board.” 

That motion was followed immediately by one that nominated Brad Habermehl as president of the board. 

The official March 19, 2014 meeting minutes revealed that only Habermehl abstained—Noss was among the four Board members voting “aye”.

The meeting ended at 9:15am with a final motion: the approval of Full Spectrum's new management contract. Noss abstained from that vote, with three board members approving the contract and one member voting “no”.

But Noss clearly forgot to slide a shovel into the trunk of his car that morning, and Steven Ingersoll continues to haunt the Grand Traverse Academy.

Although the Grand Traverse Academy board recently announced it has formally pulled the plug on its expansion, the seeds of its financial straits can be traced back to March 19, 2014.

Well, if you're counting, back to 2007 when Steven Ingersoll began sticking his stubby fingers in the till and manipulating the financials to cover up his fraudulent conveyance of an estimated $5.0 million from the Traverse City charter school.

But, hey, who's counting?

In this exclusive sentencing hearing excerpt (under questioning by AUSA Janet Parker) from July 12, 2016, Steven Ingersoll describes the formal business agreement he had with longtime crony Mark Noss, one that kept Ingersoll on the Full Spectrum teat for two years...and counting?

Q. All right. So where does the money for your intellectual property go? 

A. Well, at present I'm not receiving any, but – 

Q. Aren't you receiving some at least from FSM? 

A. Not anymore. 

Q. As of? 

A. April. 

Q. Why is that? 

A. I think fear. 

Q. What about the school out in California that was? 

A. They also stopped upon indictment, so the answer is the same, fear. 

Q. Is -- so is the $12,500 a month, do you believe you're still owed that from Full Spectrum Management? 

A. Well, that's questionable. I think probably not. The idea was that the intellectual property was to be applied to Dr. Noss's clinics, which he has now closed. He had four clinics running. He has closed them all. [NOTE: Michigan corporation records for Traverse City's Excel Institute, run by Mark Noss, indicate otherwise. In fact, Noss filed his 2017 annual statement on February 15, 2017.]

Q. But that money was coming from Full Spectrum Management from GTA? 

A. Not GTA. No money -- no money from GTA came to me for intellectual property. 

Q. I'm not saying directly to you. I'm saying wasn't that licensing agreement to provide the intellectual property for use at the Grand Traverse Academy by Full Spectrum Management? 

A. No. 

Q. Wasn't it being used at the Grand Traverse Academy after you stopped having the role as providing management services? 

A. Yes. 

Q. So they continue to use it and you have intellectual property rights? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Why aren't you entitled, then, to payment for it? 

A. Well, that's a good question. I suppose I could aggressively attempt to get money for their use of my intellectual property. I have not done so. 

Q. Well, you were continuing to receive it for 12 months after the verdict? 

A. I think you mistake — the mistake that I pointed out. This is not — are you talking about Grand Traverse Academy, or are you talking about Dr. Noss's operation? 

Q. I'm talking about Full Spectrum Management transactions which, as I understand it, come out of an account that is funded by GTA? 

A. That's incorrect. 

Q. All right. So tell me where I'm wrong. 

A. Full Spectrum Management is a wholly owned entity, wholly owned by Mark — well, I say it's wholly owned by Mark Noss, I don't really know that. GTA has no interest in Full Spectrum Management. 

Q. I agree with you – 

A. How Full Spectrum Management gets – 

Q. -- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you. Go ahead. I'm not suggesting that GTA owns Full Spectrum Management, but Full Spectrum Management is owned by Dr. Noss, that is what he does now, you said he closed his clinics? 

A. He still maintains a general optometric clinic. 

Q. So he didn't close all of his clinics? 

A. Well, the specialty clinics that would have -- did apply the intellectual property that I created have been closed. 

Q. And when were they closed? 

A. Fairly recently in the last year sequentially. I don't know the particulars of the dates of closure, but I know that he's not – 

Q. Well, as recently as March 1st, 2016, you received a payment of $12,500? 

A. Yes. 

Q. And that was from Full Spectrum Management? 

A. Yes. 

Q. At that point were any clinics using -- run by Dr. Noss, using your intellectual property, still in operation?

A. I think so. 

Q. You think so? 

A. I'm not up to speed on his particular business operations in the four clinics that he had. I think -- I mean, I don't know this -- this is just what I heard in conversation, that he had closed his clinics. And I think that happened sequentially, but I don't know that for sure. I -- as you might guess, the amount of contact that people have with me is somewhat limited. 

Q. All right. Let me ask a different question then. Today who owns the intellectual property? 

A. Of Integrated Visual Learning, IVL? 

Q. Yes. 

A. That would be Smart School, Inc. 

Q. And is anyone using that? 

A. I think it's used a lot all around the country and internationally.  [NOTE: The logo for the Excel Institute of Shelby, run by former Grand Traverse Academy board member, Danna Haba, incorporates the “Excel Institute” trademark currently owned by...Steven Ingersoll.]

Q. Is anyone paying for that use? 

A. No. 

Q. Does anyone other than SSI, which you solely own, have an interest in that -- an ownership interest in that intellectual property? 

A. No. 

Q. Did you buy that intellectual property from SSI? 

A. Did I buy it? 

Q. Yes. 

A. No. 

Q. So up until March 1st of this year, money was going into an account for SSI's intellectual property? 

A. Yes. 

Q. All right. And what account did it go into? 

A. Well, to -- I created a visual map that will help you -- help explain the answer to that. It went to several different sites as my bank accounts were sequentially closed. Since SSI had no account to receive money, the payment stream migrated to Smart Schools Management's payroll account in 2014, and then when that closed, it went to SSB, Smart Schools Bay City, until it closed. 

Then I was reduced to pretty much just my personal account, although there was an Old Y, LLC account, and we kind of screwed up and just sent the wrong numbers to the accountant that Dr. Noss had employed, and one payment got sent to Old Y, LLC before we caught the error and then rerouted those payments to my personal account. 

So those intellectual property rights payments went first to SSM, after SSI was closed down. The Fifth Third SSM account got closed down. It did still, however, have the SSM payroll account 0789 at Traverse City State Bank, so that's what we used, until it was closed. 

Then it went to the other -- the sole remaining Smart Schools account, which was SSB at Chemical Bank until it closed down after conviction. 

And then the one anomalous payment to Old Y due to just different -- you know, wrong routing number, or wrong account number, and then finally my personal account thereafter until they stopped all together here in the spring. 

I thought April was the last payment. It might have been March. 

Q. It may be, I just had information through March, I think the – 

A. I think there was an April payment.  [NOTE: Mark Noss has asserted his $12,500 monthly payments to Ingersoll ended in March 2016, not April.]

Q. The preparation of the summary chart was done in April maybe before -- or March, but before the April payment; but, in any case, you use a passive voice in saying these accounts were closed, but is it my understanding -- well, who closed the accounts – 

A. Well – 

Q. -- or does it depend? 

A. -- the Fifth Third accounts were closed -- I guess, I closed them. I don't know, I mean, they wrote me a letter and said we're closing your accounts, so -- but I did the final act. I performed the funeral, I guess. And, likewise, the other accounts, I closed them. They were defunct, they had liens on them, levies to come, so I closed them. 

Q. Where do you maintain accounts now? 

A. Chemical Bank and I've got an account at Wildfire Credit Union, and that's it. 

Q. All right. Now, once monies for the intellectual property stopped going to an SSI bank account, how did you account for that flow of funds for tax purposes? 

A. Well, I haven't really done that yet. 

Q. Well, you started receiving those payments back in April of 2014? 

A. I haven't filed a tax return for '14 or '15.


  1. Seems to me these people need to be thoroughly investigated by the feds.
    What do you all think?

  2. So true. We need to keep after the Feds to do further investigation and for the State of Michigan to do likewise.