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Allegheny

Elaine Trombetta, sister of charter school founder who stole $8M in school funds, gets probation

Natasha Lindstrom
| Monday, July 30, 2018, 9:27 p.m.
Elaine Trombetta Neill exits the federal courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh following a hearing during which she pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return to help her brother, Nick Trombetta, siphon money from PA Cyber Charter School on Oct. 8, 2013. Neil was sentenced to two years of probation, 75 hours of community service and $30,223 in restitution on Monday, July 30, 2018.
Tribune-Review
Elaine Trombetta Neill exits the federal courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh following a hearing during which she pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return to help her brother, Nick Trombetta, siphon money from PA Cyber Charter School on Oct. 8, 2013. Neil was sentenced to two years of probation, 75 hours of community service and $30,223 in restitution on Monday, July 30, 2018.

The Beaver County woman who helped her brother hide some of the $8 million he stole from PA Cyber Charter School in a far-reaching tax fraud and evasion conspiracy has been sentenced to two years of probation, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh said Monday.

Elaine Trombetta Neill, sister of PA Cyber founder and former CEO Nick Trombetta, also must perform 75 hours of community service and pay $30,223 for her conviction of filing a false tax return, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said.

The Aliquippa woman pleaded guilty to the charge nearly five years ago.

Her sentencing was postponed so she could cooperate with investigators — in accordance with the then-private plea bargain she had struck — through the prosecutions of Nick Trombetta, 63, of East Liverpool, Ohio, and his accountant, Neal Prence.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti sentenced Nick Trombetta to 20 months in federal prison.

He pleaded guilty in August 2016 to conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service from collecting income taxes, siphoning $8 million from the charter school he created to spend on houses, a plane and other luxuries.

Prence, 62, was sentenced earlier this month to one year and one day in federal prison in connection with the conspiracy.

When Neill pleaded guilty in October 2013 , she cried in a federal courtroom as she admitted that one2one Enterprises, a company she had reported on her tax returns, was little more than a shell that her brother had set up to funnel school money to himself, Neill and their mother.

In 2010, Neill claimed at least $150,000 in income that actually went to Trombetta and $90,600 in “fictional” expenses, prosecutors said.

At the time, her attorney, James Ross, had said Neill was a “good person” caught up in an “unfortunate situation” who pleaded guilty because it was in her best interest to do so.

Assistant U.S. attorneys James R. Wilson, Stephen R. Kaufman and Robert S. Cessar prosecuted the case with help from the FBI, IRS and Department of Education.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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