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Former charter school network founder and CEO admits tax evasion

NEW YORK – The Attorney General’s office has obtained a felony plea from Eddie Calderon-Melendez, the founder and former CEO of the beleaguered Williamsburg Charter High School and Believe High Schools Network, a charter management organization. Calderon-Melendez admitted to receiving over $1.4 million in compensation and unreimbursed personal charges on the WCHS credit card from 2005 to 2010, though he never filed a tax return and failed to pay over $70,000 in taxes.

Nearly all of Calderon-Melendez’s compensation during the covered period came, directly or indirectly, from taxpayer-funded charter schools. As a result of the plea, he admitted to an E felony for repeated failure to file his NY tax returns and will have to pay back all of the taxes owing, which amounts to over $200,000 including penalties and interest. The Office of the Attorney General recommended a sentence of incarceration. Sentencing is scheduled for February 22.

“While earning a six-figure salary funded largely by taxpayer dollars, the defendant robbed the state of New York of much-needed revenue when he failed to pay his taxes for six years in a row,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “Today’s plea sends the message that tax cheats and those who violate the public trust will be held accountable.”