Belleville

'We will prevail': Governor French Academy seeks damages in copy machine dispute

The determination of the amount of damages in Governor French Academy's civil fraud lawsuit against an Okawville man was postponed until later this month, a judge ruled Wednesday in a hearing when the judge granted the man more time to file his response.

"I believe that we will prevail," Governor French Academy attorney Kevin Stine said of the case.

The school is seeking $50,000 in damages and fees from Kevin Welch regarding a dispute involving several leases for copy machines, according to the lawsuit. It alleges Welch pocketed money from leases the school administration thought were terminated, money that Welch told school officials would go toward new lease payments.

"The fraudulent acts of Welch were intentional in nature and were done with the intent to defraud (Governor French Academy)," the lawsuit states.

Welch could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Paeltz has said the school has done business with Welch for nine years, leasing copying machines from various companies the school staff thought Welch represented. The school staff was under the impression the leases were terminated when they returned the copiers to Welch but discovered later that some of the machines were never returned to the companies, according to Paeltz.

Now seven leasing companies are suing the private K-12 school, accusing it of being in possession of 14 copiers. Paeltz said the value of the leases and the machines comes to an estimated $500,000.

He said the school may have to file for bankruptcy for financial protection should the companies reject its proposal to settle the disputes.

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