NJ charter school founder charged with shocking contract rigging scheme
⚫ NJ charter school founder busted for a shocking contract scheme
⚫ He allegedly steered a big contract to build an outdoor learning center to his own furniture company
⚫ The school founder and its business administrator are accused of multiple crimes
The founder of a South New Jersey charter school and its business administrator have been indicted for allegedly structuring a $115,000 contract so it would be improperly awarded to the school founder’s outdoor furniture-making company, which never fulfilled the terms of the deal.
Peter Caporilli, 59, of Absecon, the founder and former Board of Trustees president of the Principle Academy Charter school in Egg Harbor Township, is facing an eight-count indictment.
Michael Falkowski, 48, of Point Pleasant, the school’s business administrator, is facing five counts in connection with the alleged scheme.
Caporilli’s furniture company, Modern Boat Works, which also did business under the name Tidewater Workshop, was brought up on six counts.
Scheming from the beginning
Prosecutors allege the co-conspirators broke up the project into smaller contracts valued at $40,000.00 and $75,000.00 in order to evade public bidding requirements and prevent competing contractors from bidding on the first phase of the job.
When the second, $75,000 phase of the project was put out to bid in a newspaper public notice published on Nov. 5, 2018, nine businesses responded and expressed an interest in submitting proposals.
However, according to investigators, Falkowski did not send them the necessary paperwork to submit their bids until right before the deadline, and in the end only one company, Modern Boat Works, submitted a bid on time.
Investigators also noted the school also made payments to the furniture company before the school board had approved spending the money.
This won't be tolerated
Platkin said “these defendants used their positions of power over the spending of this charter school to fix the contract-awarding process to enrich the school board president and his business, the misuse of taxpayer dollars for personal gain should not – and will not – be tolerated.”
Investigators also determined Modern Boat Works never completed the project, leaving a haphazard collection of wooden furniture in poor condition.
Five second-degree counts have been filed against all three defendants — conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking, official misconduct, false representation for a government contract, and misapplication of entrusted property. Each carries a sentence of five to 10 years behind bars and a $150,000 fine.
Caporilli and Tidewater also are accused of fourth-degree unlawful official business transactions where interest is involved, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months behind bars plus a $150,000 fine.
Caporilli is also accused of second-degree misconduct by a corporate official — punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 penalty — and tampering with physical evidence, which carries up to 18 months and a $10,000 fine.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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