Friday, June 11, 2010


By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA DAILY NEWS

06/10/2010 09:15:02 PM PDT - A husband-and-wife team that run a high-performing West Valley charter school were charged Thursday with 38 criminal counts alleging misuse of public funds, embezzling, money laundering and other crimes.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Public Integrity Division alleges that Eugene Selivanov, 38, and his wife, Tatyana Berkovich, 32, who operate Ivy Academia Charter School, misused the school's public funds, at times shifting them to a private school the couple operates and at other times putting them to "personal use."

Ivy Academia Charter School is publicly funded and serves 1,100 students on four campuses in Woodland Hills, Winnetka, West Hills and Chatsworth from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The couple was charged with felony and misdemeanor crimes in connection with alleged thefts of more than $200,000, officials from the District Attorney's Office said. The Los Angeles Superior Court complaint details instances when Selivanov transferred public funds to for-profit companies and also used public funds to pay unrelated bills, such as credit cards.

The charges also included conflict of interest, filing false tax returns and misappropriation of public funds.

The couple's attorney, Janet Levine, a partner at Crowell and Morning LLP, said they are "innocent of all charges."

"Eugene (Selivanov) and Tatyana (Berkovich) are educators and innovators, not criminals, and are confident that any fair and complete review of the facts will show that they acted honorably, ethically, and legally in administering Ivy," Levine said in a written statement.

The charges are the culmination of an investigation launched by the district attorney in 2008.

Officials at the charter school division of the Los Angeles Unified School District declined comment.

The complaint says the charges were prompted by a 2007 audit by the LAUSD's Office of Inspector General.

That report criticized some of the school's financial practices, raising concern about comingling funds between the nonprofit charter and for-profit groups affiliated with the organization.

The investigation followed accusations from former teachers and parents at Ivy who said the school was padding its attendance figures to boost state funding.

The school's state standardized test scores have placed it in the top tier of schools in LAUSD and the state since the school opened in 2004.

The school's charter was also re-authorized by the district in 2008, for a five-year term.

An arraignment for Selivanov and Berkovich is scheduled today in Los Angeles Superior Court. If convicted, Selivanov could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in state prison and Berkovitch faces up to nine years.

additional coverage:

Charter school charged with embezzling over $200K

San Jose Mercury News - ‎9 hours ago‎

AP LOS ANGELES—Administrators of a San Fernando Valley charter school have been charged with embezzling more than $200000 in public funds and other crimes. ...

Valley charter school operators charged with embezzling $200K

89.3 KPCC - ‎8 hours ago‎

The operators of a San Fernando Valley charter school were charged today with embezzlement of public funds in the alleged theft of more than $200000. ...

 ●●smf: Was the LA Times ‘scooped’ on this story? …are they so supportive of charter schools that this is a ‘non-story’? …or is the rescue from a ferris wheel really a better story because it has ‘Hollywood High’ in the headline?

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