SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Cameron J. Lewis, a charity official accused of cheating public schools across the country on sales of fitness gear and who was the focus of a Minnesota investigation, has been fired from his job, The Associated Press has learned.
The American Fork, Utah-based National School Fitness Foundation said Thursday it also had revamped its board of directors and filed a complaint alleging Lewis and his father misappropriated about $5 million from the foundation.
The Brainerd School Board entered into an agreement in July with the foundation for $219,000, which was paid by the school district up front with an agreement for reimbursement by the foundation. Under the agreement, the district bought equipment to set up a cardiovascular and strength workout gym at Mississippi Horizons.
When the foundation declared bankruptcy June 1, the school district was left owing $176,300 on a loan to buy equipment. However, the remaining loan will be paid through a federal grant.
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth declined comment Thursday.
The 31-page complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Utah, says Lewis used the charity to buy himself a small airplane and finish a half-million-dollar house in Highland, Utah.
Lewis, who was the foundation's president, also was accused of billing the charity $5,000 for scuba-diving training, $8,000 for an elk hunt and tens of thousands of dollars for political donations.
Lewis was fired May 31 during a board upheaval that was only made public Thursday by foundation attorney Grant Sumsion. The complaint says Lewis promised to pay back the charity but hasn't done so.
Lewis, who hasn't yet been served with a copy of the complaint, couldn't be reached Thursday by The Associated Press. His cell phone has been disconnected and he has an unlisted number at home, where the complaint says he hasn't been seen for weeks.
Lewis had arranged to sell $77.5 million in stationary bicycles, weight machines, treadmills and other equipment to more than 600 schools across 20 states. He promised to reimburse them with money from government grants or private donations, but stopped all payments in April, blaming an investigation in Minnesota.
Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has accused Lewis of operating a pyramid scheme by using money from newly enlisted schools -- not grants or donations -- to make token reimbursements to schools that signed up early to buy or lease the equipment. Many of the schools were left unable to pay off bank loans or satisfy leasing terms.
The foundation filed for bankruptcy reorganization June 1, saying it could no longer afford to reimburse any schools, which court papers show are owed as much as $340,000 each.
The foundation's new board is trying to salvage the charity's mission of promoting fitness in the nation's schools, Sumsion said.
"They really believe that by reorganizing, they can pay their creditors more than they can by liquidating," Sumsion said. "They hope to restore the confidence of a pool of donors out there."
The board's original four members, which included Cameron Lewis' father, have resigned. Another member, Martin Arnoldini, left after revealing a prior felony conviction for his role in a tax-avoidance scheme.
The new board, which consists of just two members, directed the foundation to sue Cameron Lewis and his father, Tyron, after discovering they had engineered a series of questionable financial dealings.
Lewis has been replaced by Jeffrey M. Peterson, formerly the foundation's chief operating officer.
(Staff Writer Matt Erickson contributed to this report.)
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