TRAVERSE CITY — It took federal jurors more than two days to arrive at a verdict in fraud and tax evasion trial against Steven Ingersoll, a founder of local charter school Grand Traverse Academy.

A U.S. District Court jury on Tuesday found Ingersoll guilty of tax fraud conspiracy and two counts of tax evasion, but acquitted him of more-serious charges of wire fraud. Ingersoll's attorney Jan Geht said three wire fraud charges could have carried a 30-year maximum sentence.

District Judge Thomas Ludington dropped a conspiracy to defraud charge last week before jurors began deliberations.

"Obviously, we're disappointed with the conviction on the tax fraud counts," Geht said. "At the very least, both the judge and the jury found there were no bank or wire fraud in the case."

The verdict in the nearly month-long trial may not be the end for a case that caused turmoil at Grand Traverse Academy, a publicly funded charter school on Hammond Road. Ingersoll founded the school and headed its former management company, Smart Schools.

Academy officials severed their relationship with Ingersoll and his company as he faced federal indictment. Board President Brad Habermehl and Superintendent Susan Dameron didn't return calls for comment about the verdict.

The school went into deficit because school officials had to write off $1.6 million that officials said Ingersoll promised to the school. 

Geht said Ingersoll is "evaluating" whether to ask Ludington to overturn the jury's verdict or file an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He said either option would have to wait until after a sentencing hearing currently scheduled for June 16.

Ingersoll's conviction could carry a five-year prison sentence.

U.S. Attorney Janet Parker didn't return a call for comment. Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Eastern District of Michigan office, said prosecutors were happy with the jury's verdict, which also convicted Ingersoll's associate Roy Bradley of a conspiracy charge.

"We're happy with the verdict and we'll thank the jury for their hard work," Balaya said.

Jurors acquitted Bradley's wife Tammy Bradley and Ingersoll's brother Gayle Ingersoll of their charges.

Lake Superior State University granted the charter on Grand Traverse Academy. Nick Olshelski, executive director of the university's charter school office, said the verdict likely wouldn't affect the school but may impact Bay City Academy, another school Ingersoll founded.

"I'll be talking to our legal counsel to see what exactly our options will be," he said.

Trending Video

Recommended for you