An Ohio businessman involved with several Florida charter schools has been convicted of racketeering and organized fraud.
The Pensacola News-Journal reported that a jury deliberated for five hours on Friday before finding Steven Kunkemoeller guilty.
During the trial prosecutors said Kunkemoeller intentionally overbilled Newpoint charter schools around the state for goods like computers, iPads and furniture. He then allegedly split the proceeds — about $900,000 — with Marcus May, the owner of the company that ran the schools.
Kunkemoeller’s attorney argued his client was innocent and that it was the owner of the company that ran the school who acted in bad faith. He also contended that the Florida Department of Education and Escambia County schools failed to provide proper oversight.
Newport formerly managed charter schools in Bray, Broward, Duval and Pinellas, in addition to Escambia County. According to the charging affidavit, May obtained a $350,000 grant to run San Jose Prep Academy, a charter school in Duval County. Prosecutors claim that May showed there were 225 students when in fact, there were only 54.
San Jose Academy broke ties with Newport in 2016.