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Tax fraud sentencing delayed for cyber school founder |

Tax fraud sentencing delayed for cyber school founder

Dave Conti | Tribune-Review
Nick Trombetta (right), founder of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, leaves U.S. District Court, Downtown, with his attorney J. Alan Johnson in 2013.
Dave Conti | Tribune-Review
Nick Trombetta (right), founder of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, leaves U.S. District Court, Downtown, with his attorney J. Alan Johnson in 2013.

Sentencing for Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School former CEO and founder Nick Trombetta — convicted of siphoning $8 million from the Midland-based public school to finance his luxurious lifestyle — has again been postponed, court records show.

Trombetta, 62, of East Liverpool faces orders to pay restitution and up to five years in federal prison.

He was scheduled to be sentenced June 20 .

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti filed a notice announcing Trombetta’s sentencing has been postponed. A new hearing date has not yet been determined.

In August, Trombetta — indicted by a grand jury on 11 counts of tax fraud and conspiracy charges in 2013 — pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service from collecting income taxes.

Trombetta used money earmarked for education to stockpile retirement money and buy personal luxury goods for himself, his girlfriend and his family — including multiple homes and a twin-engine airplane, U.S. Attorney David Hickton said at the news conference following Trombetta’s guilty plea.

The conspiracy involved Trombetta and several others moving about $8 million from PA Cyber to other companies created or controlled by Trombetta and filing false tax returns, prosecutors said.

Since its 2000 opening, PA Cyber has grown into the largest K-12 online-learning provider in Pennsylvania.

Trombetta resigned from his post as CEO of the school in September 2013 and “has not had any affiliation with the school since,” said sitting PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden.

“The school was actually declared a victim by the prosecutors, not a party to the crime,” said Hayden, who began his post as CEO in January.

“Obviously, we’re in a better place now,” Hayden continued. “We’re no longer that same school in so many different ways.”

Last month, PA Cyber graduated about 1,100 students. Total enrollment is about 11,000 and climbing, Hayden said. He cited a new nepotism policy that strictly forbids the hiring of direct relatives of board members and other school officials.

Trombetta’s sentencing was initially scheduled for Dec. 20. The judge has allowed him to remain free on bond.

Trombetta’s attorney did not return a call for comment.

His sister, Elaine Trombetta Neil, 59, of Center, pleaded guilty in October 2013 to filing a false individual income tax return on her brother’s behalf. She was scheduled to be sentenced July 14.

Sentencing also has been postponed for his accountant and co-conspirator, Neal Prence , a court clerk said.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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