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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

THE COST OF CORRUPTION: The Story Of Steven Ingersoll's Line Of Credit...Told In His Own Words!


This is one of the many contradictory assertions made by Ingersoll: If the GTA board was complicit in Ingersoll’s deception, as suggested by Ingersoll and Habermehl’s testimony, then the GTA board itself is criminally culpable.” 

The members of the Grand Traverse Academy’s board of directors must be starting to feel like the guys with the shovels who follow the elephants: still cleaning up after convicted felon Steven J. Ingersoll.

But, like the observation above (italicized) about criminal culpability that appeared in a February 19, 2016 court document filed during Ingersoll's sentencing hearing, questions about the board remain unanswered.

Some reading this blog may believe that revealing information about the Grand Traverse Academy’s board of directors only serves to imperil the reputation of the school, victimizing students and teachers alike. 

In other words, blame the whistleblower and her exposé for creating the problem. If you don’t like the bad news, then “shoot the messenger” for being the bearer of that news. 

If you believe that, you're wrong.

If you are in a position of authority—charter school board members are public officials who’ve taken a constitutional oath of office—and you know about a possible crime, then you are more complicit than the criminal if you fail to report it, or help cover it up, or worse -- participate in the crime. 

The people to whom we entrust our system -- our civil servants, law enforcement, our educators -- must be vigilant in the discharge of their responsibilities, because when leaders in our communities encounter potential criminal activity and do less than they should, they compromise our trust. 

If a public official fails to act with intention in investigating the misappropriation of millions of taxpayer dollars, we lose faith, not just in that public official, but in all public officials. The public official who did nothing will have betrayed those of us who count on the system to protect us. 

That’s because the cover-up is always worse than the crime. It’s one thing to be guilty of doing something wrong; it’s another other issue completely to be a deceiver, trying to hide the truth from the public. 

Sermon over, now let's wrap this thing up!  


On June 8, 2007, GTA board member Lesley Werth signed a promissory note for a $474,000 loan from Steven Ingersoll's Smart Schools Management, Inc. to the GTA. 

According to testimony given by Ingersoll over two days (December 8-9, 2015), after getting approval for repayment of the debt from the GTA board, Ingersoll then borrowed the money (used by the GTA board to plug a financial shortfall) with a $500,000 Traverse City State Bank line of credit loan. Ingersoll set up his own end, a promissory note, then parlayed that into a line of credit loan.

Shown below, the official TCSB authorization reveals Smart Schools Management, Inc. was the borrower, and Steven Ingersoll the responsible party. The purpose of the loan was to provide financing to allow SSM to privately support cash flow for Grand Traverse Academy. That purpose would change over the ensuing years, but line of credit loan documents never included the Grand Traverse Academy as a party to the transaction between Ingersoll and the TCSB.

Let's rejoin Steven Ingersoll on the stand during his sentencing hearing. Ingersoll is being questioned by his attorney Jan Geht:

THE COURT: Let's see if we can be clear. 

Q. Right. So is there -- I guess, if I can have some latitude in leading. Are you referring to the line – what eventually became the line of credit? 

A. That is right. 

Q. So the $450,000 was part of the line of credit? 

A. I was, in my history, going to come to the second half of that million-dollar line of credit. 

MS. PARKER: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear the second half. 

THE WITNESS: Second half of that mill -- what came to be a million-dollar line of credit that Smart Schools had with Traverse City State Bank. 

Q. And recognizing -- I'll ask, did that line of credit ever go down to zero before you left Grand Traverse Academy? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Okay. And was it at multiple periods of time or just one period of time? 

A. Multiple periods. 

Q. Okay. 

A. Probably -- it was paid down probably to zero four or five times. 

Q. Okay. So immediately – 

THE COURT: Sir, if we could clarify, as I understood the initial testimony, the borrower from Grand Traverse bank for the $450,000 was either Mr. Ingersoll or SSM who in turn lent the funds to Grand Traverse Academy. My understanding is that he never received any of the funds from Grand Traverse Academy, but either personally or through SSM satisfied that or alternatively it got added to a later line of credit, and so I'm confused. See if we can unwind that. 

Geht walked Ingersoll through his testimony, including four TCSB loan authorizations he signed as head of Smart Schools between 2007-2012.  

Later, Ingersoll states he and Smart Schools Management were the borrowers:

Q. If I can direct your attention to the first page of 309, do you see under the promise to pay who's listed as the borrower? 

A. Where is that? 

Q. On the first page at the very top under the principal amount. 

A. Oh, Smart Schools Management.

Later, in a January 7, 2016 email to Bruce Harger, Ingersoll recaps testimony regarding his claim he'd spent $758,000 from the TCSB line of credit on the Bay City Academy's Madison Arts building renovation:

As Ingersoll notes, a final determination on his claim would be addressed later. With the pre-sentencing report sealed, it's impossible to know the veracity of Ingersoll's claims.

However,it's clear from the TCSB account's documentation that Ingersoll was legally allowed to use the money at the GTA, other charter schools and other working capital needs.

I rest my case.


  1. Even though you've had the illustration of Ingersoll on that heap of money for some time, it's as true today as ever - Mr. IVL himself sitting on that pile of money. That's what makes him smile any way he can get it (except legitimately). He's still the puppet master scheming his and his colleagues financial summersaults.