Aurora man indicted on charge of giving kickbacks to charter school CEO

RECORD-COURIER STAFF REPORT Published:

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Cleveland -- An Aurora man is among 10 people and 13 firms indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on charges they laundered nearly $2 million from a Cleveland-based charter school.

According to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor,'s office, David F. Lembo, 45, was the owner of North Coast Real Estate Management Co., which negotiated a lease for the Cleveland Academy of Scholarship, Technology and Leadership Enterprise, also known as CASTLE.

Lembo allegedly gave kickbacks totaling $6,425 to CASTLE Chief Executive Officer William Peterson on at least five occasions.

Lembo was last known to have a mailing address in the 100 block of Barrington Town Square and lived at 380 Walnut Ridge Trail, according to Portage County court and voting records.

The investigation, which included officers from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office, Ohio auditor's office and Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, revealed that Peterson was the CEO of CASTLE "while at the same time he had an undisclosed ownership and/or financial interest" in five other companies, which he allegedly used to launder $858,000 from CASTLE.

A state auditor's office audit of "payments to selected vendors" and "unexplained bank activity" regarding CASTLE's bank account resulted in investigators finding payments made to 13 shell companies "owned by or affiliated with five CASTLE board members or officials which were not supported by documentation," according to the prosecutor's office.

The total fraud was approximately $1.85 million, according to the state auditor's office.

Facing 32 counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft by deception, money laundering and unlawful interest in a public contract are:

Peterson, 43 his wife Diana Peterson, 44, Dennis Stewart, 65, and Dale Qualls, 51, all of Dayton; Rolando Peterson, 41, of Shaker Heights, and William Peterson's brother; Thomas Unik III, 52, and Claudette Williams, 34, both of Cleveland; Stanley Jackson, 38, of South Euclid; and Carl Shye, 58, of New Albany.

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