Jury in charter fraud trial hears of excess

By Martha Woodall, Phila Inquirer, November 27, 2013

PHILADELPHIA Jurors in Dorothy June Brown’s federal fraud trial heard Tuesday about multiple salaries paid to Brown and money she received from management firms she controlled.

Brown is accused of defrauding the four charter schools she founded of $6.7 million and then conspiring with two former administrators to obstruct justice by orchestrating a cover-up.

Francis L. Gizaza, an accountant who began preparing tax returns for Brown’s schools in 1998, reviewed several years of nonprofit tax forms for the schools. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan E. Burnes asked him to highlight Brown’s salaries.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2006, Brown was paid a total of $472,483 from three of her schools: $186,929 as the chief executive of the Laboratory Charter School; $108,554 as CEO of Ad Prima Charter School; and $177,000 as executive director of Main Line Academy, a small private school for students with special needs she established in Bala Cynwyd.

Laboratory has campuses in Northern Liberties, Overbrook, and Wynnefield. Ad Prima is in Overbrook and Frankford.

Brown stepped down as CEO of both charters in 2008 after the state law was changed to bar charter administrators from collecting salaries from more than one school.

After Brown helped found the Agora Cyber Charter School in Devon in 2005, she cofounded the Cynwyd Group L.L.C., which got a management contract that paid it 7 percent of Agora’s gross revenues.

Gizaza said the partnership documents showed that Brown received 72 percent of Cynwyd’s revenues while her business partner, Brien Gardiner, got 28 percent.

Prosecutors contend that Agora’s board never approved the Cynwyd contract and that Brown fabricated the document.

Gizaza said Cynwyd’s revenues were $323,273 in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2008….

read more at Phila Inquirer

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