Police Investigating Bishop Sycamore for Invalid Checks | Athletic Business

Police Investigating Bishop Sycamore for Invalid Checks

The Bishop Sycamore fraud allegations have moved on to checks, as the Canton Police Department is reportedly investigating invalid checks written by the football team.

According to the Canton Repository, Canton police confirmed Wednesday that the hotel Bishop Sycamore stayed at over the weekend reported the team for writing invalid checks. The team, which has been alleged to be a fake high school, left a lot of questions in the wake of its 58-0 loss to IMG Academy that was televised Sunday on ESPN.

Related content: ESPN Duped into Airing HS Game with Suspect Team

The Repository reported that the Bishop Sycamore rented 25 rooms at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Canton South in Ohio on Friday and Saturday. Police reports show the hotel reported two invalid checks totaling $3,596, with Canton Police lieutenant Dennis Garren saying the checks were written on an account listed to Education Resources Group of New York, New York. The hotel also assessed cleaning fees at $250 apiece for three rooms.

Garren said the police investigation has two suspects and is focused on “passing bad checks,” or forgery.

The Columbus Dispatch noted that the checks are not the only legal trouble Bishop Sycamore is facing. Roy Johnson, who was let go as head coach after Sunday’s game, has a bench warrant out in Delaware County. The warrant was issued July 2 due to an unpaid $1,396.20 fine in a 2020 case in which Johnson was originally charged with assault and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminal mischief.

Police responded on March 7, 2020, after a woman identifying herself as Johnson’s girlfriend said he hit her and threw her against a wall. Johnson denied a physical altercation and the fine was issued on Nov. 10, 2020.

Bishop Sycamore has yet to register with the Ohio Department of Education for the 2021-22 school year, but has until the end of September to file paperwork. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Bishop Sycamore reported three enrolled students to the state in 2020-21. Non-chartered, non-tax supported schools are also required to report their enrollment to the treasurer of their home district, but Columbus City Schools can’t locate any reports from Bishop Sycamore.

"There is no school with this name in the Ohio Education Directory System," Columbus City Schools spokeswoman Jacqueline Bryant said. "The district has not received enrollment information for a Bishop Sycamore."

Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that the Ohio Department of Education was launching an investigation into Bishop Sycamore.

“While this weekend’s football game brought concerns about the health and safety of players, it also raised red flags about the school’s operations,” DeWine said.

Andre Peterson, who founded, directs and is an assistant coach at Bishop Sycamore, defended the school’s existence to USA TODAY Sports on Monday night.

"There’s nothing that I’ve gotten out of this that would constitute it as a scam because I’m not gaining anything financially from what we’re doing," Peterson said. "The reality of it is that I have a son (Javan) that’s also in the program and has been in the program for four years.

"If it’s a scam and the kids are not going to school and not doing what they’re supposed to do, then I’m literally scamming myself. And most importantly, I’m hurting my own son. So when people say stuff like that … I would literally be taking my son’s future and throwing it in the trash." 

Related content: Bishop Sycamore Defends Legitimacy, Fires Coach

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