World Bulletin / News Desk
An international law firm on Tuesday issued a complaint against Fetullah Gulen-linked schools in Ohio, citing improper financial affairs to exploit public funds.
Attorney Robert Amsterdam, a co-founder of Amsterdam & Partners LLP that is investigating Gulen’s global network on behalf of the Turkish government, announced the complaint during a press conference in Columbus, Ohio.
“In the Ohio complaint that we are filing, we have identified $19 million in excessive profit in real estate scam,” Amsterdam said.
He called the alleged misconduct by the Gulen group a “closed-loop leasing scam.”
The group is also called the Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization (FETO) in Turkey as it tried to establish a quasi-state within the Turkish state and eventually led an unsuccessful military coup in July.
According to Amsterdam, Gulen-linked companies are buying properties and leasing them to the Gulen-linked Concept schools in Ohio known as Horizon Science Academy and Noble Academies.
“They do it by being on both sides — and sometimes three sides — of a transaction," he said.
Citing the complaint, Amsterdam said a company named Breeze Inc. is acquiring properties for Gulen charter schools, and a non-profit organization named New Plan Learning -- which acts as an umbrella group for Breeze -- have bought, renovated, leased and sold properties to each other to exploit the public fund provided to them.
In 2005, Breeze bought a building and two parcels of land for $1.25 million, Amsterdam said, but the founder of the company and Gulen’s Concept schools, Vedat Akgun, leased the property on behalf of a Concept school in Cincinnati, since generating more than $3.6 million in rental fees.
The complaint provides several other examples showing similar transactions.
“This real estate scam is in addition to the visa scam,” Amsterdam added.
He said Gulen’s network brought about 700 unqualified teachers to Ohio through the U.S. H1B visa program, costing Ohio taxpayers nearly $3 million.
According to Amsterdam, there are more than 150 charter schools run by Gulen-linked individuals, 17 of which are in Ohio.
In Ohio, 10 schools are renters of New Plan Learning Inc. and pay far higher rents than other schools that rent buildings from unaffiliated companies, he said.
Amsterdam warned against Gulen network’s penetration efforts in the U.S., noting their contracts for charter schools on some military bases.
He called for American authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the Gulen organization.
Since 2013, the Turkish government has worked to remove Gulen members from government positions.
Immediately after the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey requested Washington extradite the leader of the group. The request is still being reviewed by the Justice Department.
The complaint against the Gulen-linked schools comes as a leading U.S. magazine detailed how FETO eased into strategic positions within the Turkish government for years and penetrated the state to change it from within.
Dexter Filkins based his article, Turkey's Thirty-Year Coup, for the latest edition of The New Yorker based on an exclusive interview with Gulen, witnesses and research conducted overseas.
According to an interview in 2011 with Orhan Gazi Ertekin, a secular judge in Ankara, Gulen controlled the Turkish justice system.
Ertekin said a group of Gulenist fellow judges conspired during a judicial convention about who to exclude and who to choose for Turkey's Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the article says.
According to Filkins, top U.S. officials wrote letters of support for Gulen to obtain a green card in 2008, including CIA National Intelligence Council former vice chairman Graham Fuller, ex-CIA official George Fidas and former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz.
In addition to officials, Filkins also spoke to former Gulenists who were in high positions within the organization when they decided to split from the group after witnessing some of the goings on within the structure.
Said Alpsoy, who operated for 17 years within FETO and split from the group in 2003, told Filkins that people often lost themselves in fantastical rituals inside the movement.
Alpsoy "witnessed hundreds of times" a group of men gather in a room, grabbed someone among them, pinned his legs and arms, removed his socks and shoes and kissed his feet, often against his will.
He added that on one occasion a man appeared at a service with a shoe that he said had been worn by Gulen.
"People were so excited, they stripped the leather from the shoe and boiled it for a long time. Then they cut the leather into pieces and ate it," he said.
Last Mod: 12 Ekim 2016, 08:31