A.G. Schneiderman Secures Felony Plea Of Former Brooklyn Charter School Network Founder And CEO
Believe Network And Williamsburg Charter High School Leader Received Over $1.4 Million In Compensation And Never Paid Taxes To New York
Schneiderman: Those Who Cheat Taxpayers And Abuse The Public Trust Will Be Prosecuted To Fullest Extent Of The Law
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced his office has secured a felony plea from Eddie Calderon-Melendez, the founder and former CEO of the beleaguered Williamsburg Charter High School and Believe High Schools Network, a charter management organization. Calderon-Melendez admitted to receiving over $1.4 million in compensation and unreimbursed personal charges on the WCHS credit card from 2005 to 2010, though he never filed a tax return and failed to pay over $70,000 in taxes.
Nearly all of Calderon-Melendez’s compensation during the covered period came, directly or indirectly, from taxpayer-funded charter schools. As a result of the plea, he admittedto an E felony for repeated failure to file his NY tax returns and will have to pay back all of the taxes owing, which amounts to over $200,000 including penalties and interest. The Office of the Attorney General recommended a sentence of incarceration. Sentencing is scheduled for February 22.
“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,”Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Today’s plea sends the message that tax cheats and those who violate the public trust will be held accountable.”
The plea follows an indictment, secured in Kings County Supreme Court, charging Calderon-Melendez with 11 felony counts: 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.
The Attorney General recognizes the diligent work of the his staff who developed the case, particularly John Serrapica, Supervising Investigator and Forensic Accountant and Valerie Patrick, legal support analyst. He also recognizes the significant contributions from staff at the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance, including Robert Bergeson, Forensic Tax Auditor II, and Kiran Heer, Associate Attorney in the Criminal Investigations Division.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Suplina and Senior Counsel Emily Bradford, under the supervision of Taxpayer Protection Bureau Chief Randall Fox and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.