There appears to be a reason a Brooklyn charter school was so broke in 2009 that its teachers were forced to double as janitors: the school’s founder was allegedly using the (publicly funded) school’s credit card to go gallivanting across Europe — amongst several other alleged acts of sleaze.
That founder, Eddie Calderon-Melendez, was hit today with an 11-count indictment alleging that he failed to pay more than $70,000 in taxes over six years after getting compensated $1.4 million to “manage” the school.
All of that compensation came either “directly or indirectly from taxpayer funded charter schools,” according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Calderon-Melendez founded the Williamsburg Charter High School in 2003.
In 2009, he opened two more publicly funded charter schools in the same
neighborhood. He also created the Charter Management Network, which
“managed” the schools for a hefty fee — the money to pay the fee came
from taxpayers and, naturally, Calderon-Melendez served as the Network’s
CEO, taking in a $500,000 salary in 2009 alone.
In addition to the high fees for very little “management” (click here to read a NY Post
story from last year detailing the brand of “management”
Calderon-Melendez provided the schools in exchange for his bloated
salary), Schneiderman says Calderon-Melendez charged $1,800 on the school’s credit card to
fund a trip to Europe.
To cover up his despicable use of taxpayer coin, Schneiderman says Calderon-Melendez created and submitted false tax returns.
“While earning a six-figure salary funded largely by taxpayer dollars,
the defendant robbed the state of New York of much-needed revenue when
he failed to pay his taxes for six years in a row. He then compounded
his crime by creating false evidence to throw investigators off his
trail,” Schneiderman says.
In all, Calderon-Melendez has been hit with 11 felonies: two counts of
repeated failure to file personal income
and earnings taxes; two counts of criminal tax fraud in the third
degree; one count of criminal tax fraud in the fourth degree; four
counts of tampering with physical evidence; one count of grand larceny
in the fourth degree; and one count of falsifying business records in
the first degree.
Attempts to reach Calderon-Melendez this afternoon were unsuccessful.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 12, 2012