Cedarbrook: Two charged with bilking $522,000 from school

Two founders of a Cedarbrook charter school were charged in a 27-count indictment on Thursday for allegedly using more than $500,000 in school funds to pay for another school they operated, private business ventures and personal expenses.

Federal prosecutors claim Hugh Clark and Ina Walker, both of Philadelphia, took the funds from New Media Technology Charter School, which they founded in 2004. According to the indictment, the scheme took place between March 2005 and December 2009 when both were forced to resign. During that time Clark, chairman of the board of New Media, and Walker, New Media’s chief executive officer, allegedly diverted the funds to Lotus Academy, a small private school in West Oak Lane, and Black Olive health food store and Black Olive restaurant.

They also allegedly directed money to Clark’s Web design business, Tekhen, and to pay credit card bills for personal expenditures. In total, they are accused of bilking New Media out of $522,000. Prosecutors claim the two had sole oversight of the finances of the two schools and lied to board members and auditors.

“It is a broad conspiracy over a number of years,” said assistant U.S. District Attorney Joan Burnes.

Clark was released on his own recognizance Thursday. Walker was scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

Walker’s attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, declined to comment before reviewing the evidence, but said his client will plead not guilty. Clark has not obtained legal counsel

Still on board

Clark remains the board chair at Lotus Academy, while Walker is no longer in an executive position, Burnes said. No one at Lotus could be reached for comment.