Ohio men charged in fraud scheme involving Bay County charter school

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Charges have been brought against two Ohio men affiliated with the former management company of Bay County Charter School Palm Bay Academy.

Marcus May of Newpoint Education Partners, and Steven Kunkemoeller of School Warehouse, Inc. and Red Ignition, Inc. were charged with racketeering and organized fraud in connection with fraudulent schemes involving public charter schools in Bay, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Holmes and Pinellas Counties.

According to court filings, the misconduct involved use of public funds in a fraudulent billing scheme by Newpoint, in which Newpoint used related vendors to submit excessive, false, and/or fictitious invoices for furniture, equipment, computers and services.

The scheme allegedly involved Newpoint-managed charter schools in Bay County, among several other counties.

Court filings allege that as a result of the various schemes, May received more than $1 million of public funds from a pattern of thefts from the State Department of Education, six school districts, and 15 Newpoint-managed charter schools. Court filings also allege that May used proceeds of the schemes to establish or operate multiple Florida and Ohio limited liability companies, which he used to acquire residential and business properties in Florida and Ohio.

Back in May of 2016, an Escambia County Grand Jury indicted Newpoint Education Partners, but no individuals were named at the time. In 2015, Newpoint Education Partners managed Newpoint Bay Academy and High School in Panama City from 2008-2015.

Newpoint and Bay District Schools agreed to terminate the management agreement with the school in 2015, after Superintendent Bill Husfelt refused to sign Newpoint's application for a $950,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education to help fund two new charter schools in Bay County.

The school is now an independent charter school and is now known as Palm Bay Preparatory Academy. It's on Highway 390 just north of 23rd Street in Panama City.