An Aiken County grand jury this week returned four indictments on Jonathan “Jay” Warren Brooks, founder of Compass Academy.
Brooks, 40, was indicted on two counts of securities fraud, according to a statement from the S.C. Attorney General's office. The felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000 per count.
One count alleges that Brooks took investment money for a fictional entity called the “Charles Howell Trust,” but instead converted the funds for his personal use, Mark Powell, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office, said in a statement. The other count alleges that Brooks took investments but then, improperly and without permission, diverted the funds for the benefit of Compass Academy.
Brooks was also indicted on a count of forgery, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine at the discretion of the court. He is accused of forging an investor's signature on a financial document.
Brooks was also indicted on a violation of the Securities Act by making false or misleading statements to the securities commissioner, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. Brooks was arrested in July and jailed on one count of securities fraud. He later posted bail.
Brooks, his wife Tracey and his companies have previously been accused by the Attorney General's office of illegally selling unregistered securities to fund the establishment of their school, Compass Academy.
They have also been accused by the Securities Division of the Attorney General's office of using those funds to buy groceries, their home, vacations and jewelry, rather than investing them.
One Aiken resident has filed a civil suit in Circuit Court alleging that Brooks forged her signature – badly – when he sold all of her stocks and invested the money in Compass Academy. Brooks also faces a civil suit filed by the Caniglia Management Group, alleging breach of contract.
The court-appointed receiver of Compass Academy's assets determined it was not feasible to get the school up and running for the 2013-2014 school year due to insufficient funding and enrollment, and was given approval to market and list the buildings and property at the school for sale.
An auction of the Compass Academy property on Toolebeck Road was scheduled for Oct. 26 but was canceled a day early after a buyer was found.
The name of the buyer is being kept confidential, and a spokesman for the firm chosen to auction the property said the plan for the property will be an “asset” to Aiken.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.