Valley charter school operators charged with embezzling $200K

The operators of a San Fernando Valley charter school were charged today with embezzlement of public funds in the alleged theft of more than $200,000.

Yevgeny Selivanov, 38, and his wife, Tatyana Berkovich, 32, who operate the Ivy Academia charter school, are scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse, according to Deputy District Attorney Sandi Roth.

Selivanov and Berkovich are each charged with five felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer and filing a false tax return, along with a misdemeanor count of failing to file a statement of their economic interests for 2008, according to the
criminal complaint.

Selivanov is additionally charged with six counts of misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement by a public or private officer, money laundering and filing a false tax return, while Berkovich is charged with a misdemeanor count of conflict of interest.

There was no immediate response to a message left with the attorney representing Selivanov and Berkovich.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of the Inspector General began an audit of Ivy Academia charter school in June 2006 as one of several charter schools to be audited, according to the criminal complaint, which alleges that the crimes occurred between 2004 and 2009.

The complaint alleges that a school district auditor "identified several areas which appeared to involve commingling of public with private funds and failure to accurately report financial transactions in the school's accounting records.''

The case was referred to the district's Office of Investigations in August 2006, then to the District Attorney's Public Integrity Division in May 2008, according to the complaint.

The Tarzana couple started the school in 2004 for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Ivy Academia has four campuses -- one each in Woodland Hills, West Hills, Winnetka and Chatsworth -- and bills itself on its website as "one of the highest performing charter schools in California.''

The couple also co-own a private "for public'' preschool, Academy Just for Kids, which shares a campus with one of the charter schools, according to the District Attorney's Office.

If convicted as charged, Selivanov faces a possible maximum prison term of 14 years and two months, while his wife faces up to nine years behind bars, according to the District Attorney's Office.

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