Greater Heights Academy Audits Identify $630,000 in Findings for Recovery
Columbus – A former board member of the now closed Greater Heights Academy (Cuyahoga County) demanded and accepted more than half of a million dollars of improper payments, according to four audits released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“This is a different type of greed,” Auditor Yost said. “No matter how many audits we release with findings like this, I’ll never understand what motivates people to steal from children.”
Three audits found that former board member Gilbert Singerman had family ties to Northbound Inc., a company contracted by the academy for construction work. Singerman wrote letters to the academy on Northbound Inc. letterhead demanding payment for services and endorsed the checks issued by the academy. A finding for recovery was issued against Singerman for unlawful interest in public contracts in the amount of $507,206.
The 2009 audit issued a $42,907 finding as a result of misused state funding. In 2008, the Ohio Department of Education issued the funds as reimbursement for the academy’s student lunch program. Instead of putting the funds towards lunches, it was deposited into a bank account held by the academy’s sponsor, Ashe Culture Center.
The remaining $77,373 in findings for recovery was identified as unsupported expenditures. The audits covered 2006-2009 and identified a total of $627,486 in findings for recovery.
The findings in this audit are not associated with the federal investigation of Greater Heights Academy. That investigation led to federal grand jury indictments of four people associated with the academy on multiple charges. All pled guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced in March 2014.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.