A businessman whose company managed 15 charter schools in Florida, including two in Broward County, has been charged with fraud and racketeering for what prosecutors describe as a scheme to divert public education funds, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Marcus Nelson May was charged on Monday for using markups, phony invoices and a network of related companies to divert more than $1 million of the more than $57 million in public funds given to charter schools managed by his company, Newpoint Education Partners, between 2007 and 2016, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
May used more than $1 million to purchase properties in Florida and to pay for portions of personal expenses including plastic surgery, restaurant bills, massages, credit card payments, country club costs and cruises and trips to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, the Times reported, citing an affidavit.
The affidavit was filed in circuit court in Escambia County, where an investigation that started locally was later expanded to six other counties with schools managed by Newpoint, including Broward County. Newpoint managed an elementary and middle school in Broward called Magnolia Schools for the Arts & Technology, which were shuttered just weeks into the school year in 2014, the Sun Sentinel reported.
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Newpoint no longer manages any schools in Florida, according to the Times. The company was indicted by a grand jury last year on charges of grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime. Bail for May has been set at $600,000 and he has been ordered to remain in Florida, the Times reported.