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Former charter operator charged with stealing school funds in Florida

June 20, 2017
Marcus May, the owner of Newpoint Education Partners, is accused of misusing more than $1 million in public funds.

The owner of an organization that managed public charter schools in six Florida counties has been charged with racketeering and organized fraud.

The Pensacola News-Journal reports that Marcus May, the owner of Newpoint Education Partners, is accused of misusing more than $1 million in public funds, according to a news release from the State Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors allege May used "shell companies" he held undisclosed ownership of, or financial interest in, to sell goods and services to Newpoint-managed schools at inflated prices, then pocketed the proceeds.

Hundreds of thousands of state and county dollars meant for Newpoint schools actually went to paying portions of May and his family's property purchases, business dealings, trips abroad, household bills and even plastic surgery, a state affidavit alleges.

The charges against May stem from a wider investigation of grade tampering, teacher misconduct and financial improprieties at Newpoint schools. Newpoint, as a business entity, has been charged with grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime.

From 2007 to 2016, Newpoint managed 15 public charter schools in Escambia, Bay, Duval, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Broward counties. All told, the schools received more than $57 million in public funds from the state of Florida and various school districts.

May created some businesses "solely to do business with Newpoint," according to the prosecution affidavit. Others were run by associates who allegedly agreed to kick back part of the sales proceeds to May or his companies.

Steve Kunkemoeller, the owner of School Warehouse Inc., is suspected of providing kickbacks to May and also has been charged with racketeering and organized fraud.

School Warehouse reportedly paid $54,000 for computers and iPads, then sold the devices to a Newpoint school in Escambia County for $133,000.

The affidavit lists similar transactions with markups ranging from approximately $74,000 to $100,000.

There are numerous other allegations in the affidavit, including claims Newpoint improperly intermingled funds and property between schools, and that Newpoint intentionally overestimated student enrollment numbers to acquire more grant funding.

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