Friday, February 23, 2018

DEFUNCT ORCHARDDEPOT.COM, FORMER BLUE MARBLE PRODUCTS, LLC'S SHADY E-COMMERCE SITE HEADED TO MEDIATION; Plaintiff International Fruit Genetics, LLC of Bakersfield, California, Alleges Patent Infringement, Unjust Enrichment Relating To Sale Of Cuttings From Proprietary Hybrid Grapes


A court document filed today, February 23, the case filed on May 17, 2017 by International Fruit Genetics against San Francisco-based Blue Marble Products, LLC's orcharddepot.com, reveals the case is moving to an alternative dispute resolution: mediation.

The parties agreed to hold the mediation session within the next 60 days.

Roughly two weeks ago, the California Secretary of State suspended Blue Marble's corporate status.

BAY CITY ACADEMY ENHANCED DEFICIT ELIMINATION WATCH: Mitten Educational Management's Brian Lynch Sweats Ongoing Michigan Treasury Approval Process; Asinine, Misleading Claim About Lynch's Double-Dipping Spins Heads

NEWS FLASH: EVERYONE WHO WORKS AT THE BAY CITY ACADEMY WORKS FOR MITTEN EDUCATIONAL MANAGEMENT! Late last year, November 2, 2017, to be exact, the Bay City Academy submitted an “Enhanced Deficit Elimination Plan” to the Michigan Treasury department.

On November 27, 2017, a spokesperson for the Michigan Treasury provided a status update regarding the Bay City Academy's deficit plan: 

“The Enhanced Deficit Elimination Plan (EDEP) posted on Bay City Academy’s website is a filled out template that the Michigan Department of Treasury sent to Bay City Academy. 

Because the academy has yet to complete the preliminary review process, the posted EDEP has not been formally approved by the state Treasury Department. The preliminary review process is anticipated to be completed in early 2018. At this time, it has not formally begun.” 

While Mitten Educational Management's partners, Brian Lynch and Michael Randel, twist in the wind waiting to hear from about the future of their cash cow, the duo has employed this Orwellian claim to distract from Lynch's double-dipping: “Mr. Lynch does not receive a salary from Bay City Academy. He is directly paid by Mitten Educational Management LLC.” 

Here's what they don't tell you: everyone who works at the Bay City Academy, including its North Central Academy Mancelona campus, is leased to the charter school by their employer, Mitten Educational Management, LLC. 

They are all paid by Mitten, although the tricky little “does not receive a salary from Bay City Academy” was not utilized in Lynch's 2016 compensation report. 

Hmmm? Wonder why?
As you can see from this excerpt below, taken from the Bay City Academy's official 2017 Financial Statement, Mitten was paid $278,371 during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017, and “provides a variety of services, including financial management, leased employees”—including its Superintendent, Brian Lynch.

Stay tuned for more information about Bay City Academy's deficit, only from Glistening, Quivering Underbelly

Thursday, February 22, 2018


The Grand Traverse Academy may have committed securities fraud between 2007-2016 by making misleading public statements as the Michigan charter school’s financial condition was deteriorating due to the fraudulent conveyance of approximately $5.0 million from the charter school by its manager, Smart Schools Management, Inc.’s Steven Ingersoll.

In addition, financial information available to municipal bond investors was either incomplete or outdated, as the Academy Board provided fraudulent financial statements as part of its required continuing securities disclosure documents. 

Those statements concealed Ingersoll’s misappropriation by disguising his accumulating debt to the charter school variously as “accounts receivable”, “related party receivables”, “prepaid expenses” or “lease receivable”. (As examples, the Grand Traverse Academy’s June 30, 2012 Balance Sheet shows an “Accounts Receivable” balance of $4,050,884.10; another issued on September 30, 2013 shows a “Prepaid Expenses SSM” balance of $2,068,620.27) 

The misleading statements, made in the Academy’s financial reports, annual and mid-year financial statements, and two publicly-disseminated Board documents, “History of Grand Traverse Academy” and “Continuity At Grand Traverse Academy”, were approved by the Academy’s Board in what appears to be a conscious effort to conceal the school’s true financial picture. 

Board officials, most notably its president, Mark Noss, and his successor, Bradley Habermehl, resorted to fraud and misleading public statements in an attempt to hide the strain in the school’s finances caused by the approximately $5.0 million ultimately misappropriated by Ingersoll. 

The Grand Traverse Academy falsely depicted positive balances when the charter school had accumulated balance deficits that ultimately drove it into a financial deficit in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. 

The multi-year scheme included a member of the Grand Traverse Academy’s authorizer, Lake Superior State University. 

The head of the university’s Charter School office, Dr. Bruce Harger, was a covert business partner of Steven Ingersoll. In addition, Steven Ingersoll negligently signed the March 2007 bond offering on behalf of the Grand Traverse Academy knowing about the financial drain, while promising not to violate the bond’s general fund minimum balance covenant. 

The fraudulent financial statements submitted as continuing securities disclosure documents concealed Ingersoll’s misappropriation of nearly $5.0 million, and the Academy Board’s decision not to seek recovery of that money. 

With the willing cooperation of the Grand Traverse Academy's Board of Directors and Lake Superior State University's charter school office, Ingersoll manipulated the charter school's financials, willfully painting a rosy financial picture to avoid triggering a bond covenant and covering up his looting of millions. 

Coming Monday, February 26, I will publish a detailed timeline, putting in context numerous misleading public statements (including news stories), along with other pertinent contemporaneous activity. 

As you read the timeline, keep this fact in mind: the Academy's Board knew Steve Ingersoll was under federal investigation (and likely to be indicted) nearly a year before he was formally charged—and still left him in control of its money. 

In addition, although a Board attorney (Doug Bishop) demanded repayment of Ingersoll's estimated $3.5-million-dollar debt in June 2013, Ingersoll’s Smart Schools Management, Inc. contract with the Grand Traverse Academy was never amended to include the repayment plan's terms. 

And finally, Academy spokespersons (including superintendent Kaye Mentley, and Board members Mark Noss and Bradley Habermehl) publicly made statements about Ingersoll’s misappropriation they knew, or ought to have known, were false. 

Oh, yeah...it's big!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

SETTING SAIL ON A SEA OF RED INK? Grand Traverse Academy's FY 2018 Sixth-Month Financial Check-Up Reveals Negative Trend; Is Another Budget Deficit Looming?

“Peacock said an existing bond issue also requires GTA to keep its general fund balance at about $700,000. Those reserves – pegged to rise this year to $191,000 – should grow or officials risk bondholders demanding new management, he said.”   

Traverse City Record-Eagle
October 26, 2017

On December 19, 2017, the Grand Traverse Academy board approved a third budget revision for the current fiscal year, boosting its projected June 30, 2018 fiscal year-end fund balance from $454,895 to $508,141.

However, in financial statements filed February 8, 2018 on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's municipal bond disclosure data site, EMMA, the GTA's six-month snapshot revealed an ominous future: as of December 31, 2017, the school had a -$105,151 negative net income, and projected an insufficient $86,212 year-end balance. 

And that's an improvement over an even more negative 1st quarter, with its -$467,998 net income.

But, as recently as its December 19, 2017 meeting, the Grand Traverse Academy board was still publicly projecting a rosy (and perplexing) $508,141 July 1, 2018 fund balance. 


Rocked by declining enrollment (skidding down from a peak of 1,230 students in 2013/14 to 1,107 students as of the Michigan Department of Education's February 2018 State Aid Status report); the lingering impact of financial fraud perpetrated by former manager, convicted tax cheat Steven Ingersoll and the civil lawsuit spurred by the Traverse City charter school's abortive attempt to expand its footprint with construction managed by another former manager, Mark Noss, the Grand Traverse Academy is struggling to establish a solid financial foundation—a foundation that never truly existed.

After years of intentionally misleading financial projections that hid the Grand Traverse Academy's inability to maintain the minimum reserves legally required by its $16.2 million municipal bond, the charter school's board is facing the likely possibility of another budget deficit, fueled by an August 2018 $1,521,277 balloon payment on a $2,330,00 PNC Bank loan. 

Here's how it happened: during a seven-year period (between 2007 through 2014), the Grand Traverse Academy board deliberately misrepresented, misstated or omitted financial statement data, creating a false impression of a charter school with significant  financial strength. 

Fraud in financial statements takes the form of overstated assets or revenue or understated liabilities and expenses. The Academy carried on its books six- and seven-figure amounts classified variously by Ingersoll (with the board’s approval) as “amounts receivable from sources other than governmental units”, “prepaid expenses” or “related party receivables”, misleading bondholders and the general public. 

The table below reveals how the Grand Traverse Academy's fund balances would have appeared without Steven Ingersoll's padding.

And then this happened: the Grand Traverse Academy board refinanced $2.3 million in short-term debt it owed to Traverse City State Bank with an agreement that included a stunning provision requiring the interception of nearly $895,000 of school aid funds away from the charter school during this current year and transmitted directly to bondholders for debt-service payments — funding that cannot be redirected to any other budget line item.

It is another brick in the wall—part of the Grand Traverse Academy's ten-year cycle of short-term borrowing, and retiring debt with subsequent borrowing. 

Instead of a pattern of subsequent borrowing to pay off the previous year's obligations, the school should have been building cash reserves instead of relying on larger and larger loans. 

Who believes board members didn't notice that pattern, especially when those same members approved all that short-term borrowing activity? 

In the October 26, 2017 Record-Eagle story excerpted above, Rehmann’s Steve Peacock referred to the Grand Traverse Academy’s Series 2007 $16.2 million bond, stating the bond issue required the school to keep its general fund balance at about $700,000. 

Those reserves – pegged to rise this year to $191,000 – should grow or officials risk bondholders demanding new management, he said. 

But current trends indicate even that inadequate number will likely not be achieved. 

Maybe that's why the Grand Traverse Academy is looking for a Staff Accountant.

For those who are interested in more coverage on the sorry financial state of affairs at the Grand Traverse Academy, you can read more at these links:

COOKING THE BOOKS: Part 1 http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/08/cooking-books-grand-traverse-academys.html 

COOKING THE BOOKS: Part 2 http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/08/cooking-books-part-2-does-this-inflated.html 

BOND COVENANT VIOLATIONS http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/08/grand-traverse-academy-violates-bond.html 


2017 GTA FINANCIAL REPORT http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-fall-of-schoolhouse-of-ingersoll.html 

DEFICIT http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/10/financial-kinks-in-state-aid-firehose.html

HEADS ROLL http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/09/heads-roll-at-grand-traverse-academy.html 

ACCOUNTS DECEIVABLE http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/08/accounts-deceivable-grand-traverse.html 

TCSB LINE OF CREDIT NOSS http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/06/exclusive-traverse-city-state-banksmart.html 



SYMBIOTIC OR PARASITIC http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/08/symbioticor-parasitic.html 

DEFAULT IN OUR STARS http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2017/08/default-in-our-stars-wide-ranging.html