The leaders of a high-performing San Fernando Valley charter school were charged this week with stealing more than $200,000 in public funds through embezzlement, money laundering and filing false tax returns, among other alleged crimes.
Eugene Selivanov, 38, and his wife, Tatyana Berkovich, 33, have denied any wrongdoing, according to their attorney.
An arraignment scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court was postponed until next month.
The couple faces 38 felony and misdemeanor counts for alleged actions from 2004 through 2009 in their operation of Ivy Academia, a charter school with test scores that place it in the state's top 30% of schools.
The legal troubles are the latest twist in the saga of two Russian immigrants who combined their passions for education and business with their charter school of 1,100 students.
Charters — public schools that are independently managed— allowed the couple to pursue their idiosyncratic vision. Students begin learning business principles in kindergarten and develop business plans in 6th grade. All grade levels participate regularly in a mock society that includes merchants and government agencies and the exchange of school currency for services and wages.
The couple has acknowledged that in the early days of the school, they mixed public funds from the nonprofit charter with money and accounts attached to earlier for-profit enterprises they operated: a preschool and a summer camp/school.
The practice attracted criticism from the Inspector General of the Los Angeles Unified School District, who conducted a 2007 audit of Ivy Academia. Selivanov, "through online banking access, transferred funds to and from the charter school and other affiliated entities," the audit said. "Most of these transfers were not recorded in the books of the charter school."
Details of the criminal case prepared by the district attorney's Public Integrity Division have yet to emerge, but it grew out of issues flagged in the audit, district officials said Friday. . . .