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Press Release

Judge Sentences CPA to Prison for Helping Cyber Charter School CEO in Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, PA - A resident of Koppel, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced by a federal district court judge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to one year and a day in prison on charges of Criminal Conspiracy to Impede the Lawful Functions of the Internal Revenue Service in Ascertaining and Collecting Taxes, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Neal Prence, 62, entered a plea of guilty on September 28, 2016, to Count 6 (Criminal Conspiracy) of an Indictment that was returned by a grand jury against Prence and co-defendant Nicholas Trombetta in August of 2013. In his plea, Prence acknowledged that his actions had played a part in causing a tax loss to the Federal Government that Judge Conti found was $437,632.

According to the particular charges set forth in Count 6 of the Indictment, Prence, a certified public accountant, was instrumental in aiding the former head of the PA Cyber Charter School, Trombetta, in funneling approximately $8,000,000 from PA Cyber through an entity then known as NNDS and finally to a company called Avanti Management Group, where Trombetta had free access to the funds. Among the matters charged in Count 6 that were attributed to Prence were the filing of tax returns that attributed Trombetta’s income to the four straw owners of Avanti, the filing of false tax returns by Trombetta’s sister, Elaine Trombetta Neill, and the filing of false tax returns on behalf of Trombetta. All of this was done to disguise income that should have been reported by Trombetta, but was shifted to other persons or entities.

At the sentencing proceeding, Chief U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti also imposed a three-year term of supervised release on Prence and ordered him to pay $50,000 in restitution to the IRS.  Judge Conti stated that, "As a CPA, Prence knew what he was doing was illegal."

Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen R. Kaufman, Robert S. Cessar and James R. Wilson prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Education – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of this case.

Updated July 9, 2018