The payroll boss accused of lifting $ 70 million and causing unprecedented heartache for thousands of working Americans, still had an unlikely group of victims – some of the best basketball wonders in the country.
Michael Mann – whose company MyPayrollHR suddenly closed three weeks ago and left the pay slip unpaid – is also forced to close a school that has attracted the brightest hope, DailyMail.com has learned in an exclusive survey.
Now those high school boys have had to fight to find other schools in their attempt to keep their university and possible NBA dreams alive.
Mann, 49, pumped tens of thousands of dollars to the Lincoln Academy for three years.
& # 39; He was completely obsessed with the game & # 39 ;, former employee Kristopher Gordon told DailyMail.com.
Michael Mann, CEO of MyPayrollHR, founded Lincoln Academy for upcoming basketball stars in high school in 2017. The school did not have its own campus and was based at the Winston Salem Christian School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina until 5 September.
The academy was known as one of the best schools for basketball wonders who dream of playing college basketball and eventually in the NBA. Tyler Bailey (left) was one of the best prospects in the state, but was forced to find another school. Bryce McGowens (right), a 6ft 6in high-school junior, had already received offers from 14 Division 1 basketball programs, but was only at the school for a month before it closed
Mann is accused of creating fake companies to obtain up to $ 70 million in loans and credit lines. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison and a $ 1 million fine if he is found guilty of federal bank fraud charges.
He was released on a $ 200,000 security deposit, secured by his home and two cars, and ordered to submit a DNA sample and hand in his passport when he appeared in the US court in Albany, New York on Monday. .
His appearance in court came a week after DailyMail.com reported exclusively an FBI attack on his luxury home on the lake in Edinburgh, New York in Adirondack Park.
Mann founded the Lincoln Academy in 2017, a high school for excellent basketball prospects. It was originally based in Suwanee, Georgia, but moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the summer.
He paid tuition, board and lodging for his top players.
The school closed on September 5, the same day that MyPayrollHR closed its doors 700 kilometers to the north in Clifton Park, New York. AlwaysLive, an affiliated company that organized middle-aged basketball tournaments, stopped operating on the same day.
MyPayrollHR stopped without explanation on 5 September and left thousands of employees nationally without a salary. CEO Michael Mann was accused of fraud on Monday
After the school closed, Bryce (right) had to return to Wren High School, close to his home in Pelzer, South Carolina
& # 39; Lincoln Academy assets were all frozen due to the situation with the payroll company & # 39 ;, Bobby McGowens, the father of one of the school's best prospects, told DailyMail.com.
& # 39; It's a shame. Lincoln Academy had a very good reputation. & # 39;
Lincoln Academy attracted talented recruits after hiring former head coach Larry Davis from Cincinnati University
McGowens & # 39; s son, Bryce, a 6ft 6in high-school junior, who has already received offers from 14 Division 1 basketball programs including Clemson, LSU, Xavier and South Carolina, decided to switch to Lincoln after Mann formerly Cincinnati University associate coach Larry Davis had been appointed as head coach.
& # 39; He wants to be ready to excel at the collegiate level, & # 39; Bobby McGowens told Greenville News after his son made the decision to move.
& # 39; It is an opportunity to play for a coach with 38 years of coaching experience and to prepare for the next level.
& # 39; It was an opportunity too good to pass up. & # 39;
Davis, 63, resigned from Cincinatti after being accused in September 2017 of attacking a man on a flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte.
Bobby McGowens said that Bryce received a full scholarship for Lincoln Academy, but was only in school for a month before it folded.
After the school closed, Bryce had to return to Wren High School, close to his home in Pelzer, South Carolina.
Tyler Bailey, described as one of the best basketball perspectives in North Carolina, also had to find another school. The ninth grade chose Lincoln & # 39; just for a better challenge for me in basketball and academics & # 39 ;, he told the Winston-Salem Chronicle.
Greg Williams, who was Lincoln Academy Executive Director, is now unemployed due to the scandal – but told DailyMail.com that Mann was a & # 39; good guy & # 39; used to be
In the first two years, Lincoln Academy was established at the Friendship Christian School in Suwanee, Georgia, but then moved to Winston Salem this year
Lincoln Academy did not have its own physical campus. The first two years he was based at the Friendship Christian School in Suwanee, Georgia, but this year he came into contact with the Winston Salem Christian School.
Friendship tuition runs up to $ 10,448 a year. At Winston Salem it is $ 6,150.
& # 39; Their boys attended academic classes with us, but they weren't in our sports teams, they had their own & # 39 ;, Pastor Vasily Lantukh, president of the Georgia school board, told DailyMail.com.
& # 39; We have our own basketball team and we have not mixed them. & # 39;
Brian Wolfe, head of the Winston Salem Christian School, has not returned repeated calls from DailyMail.com.
Lantukh said his school – relying on his & # 39; Christ-focused education & # 39; – was approached by Lincoln Academy because it has several foreign students and has experience in obtaining visas for them.
In the first year, the academy boasted players from Australia and the African country of Mali on the roster.
# I don't know why they moved, we had a good relationship with them. I hadn't heard they were closed, & Lantukh added.
Greg Williams, executive director of both Lincoln Academy and AlwaysLive, said he had made the decision to move to Winston-Salem because he lives in nearby High Point and would no longer have to commute to the Atlanta area.
& # 39; But now I have no more work & # 39 ;, he told DailyMail.com at home.
Williams, however, did not blame Mann for the closure. & # 39; Mike Mann is a good guy, & # 39; he said.
Bryce McGowens received a full scholarship for the Lincoln Academy. Tuition at Winston Salem costs $ 6,150
Myreon Jones was one of the star players of Lincoln Academy in the first season. He now plays for Penn State University
& # 39; If you ask me, you should ask Pioneer Bank why we are no longer active, & # 39; he added, referring to the New York bank claiming to have fallen victim to the closure of MyPayrollHR.
The bank in Upstate, New York, which has a branch next to the MyPayrollHR office building, said the potential would lose around $ 36 million.
Lincoln Academy started off strong. In the first year it ended with a record of 25-9.
Myreon Jones, who now plays in Penn State, scored an average of 19 points per game in that inaugural season. Mann & # 39; s son, Mike Jr. was an assistant coach.
& # 39; I have always felt that Mike Jr. did not have the passion for the game his father had & # 39 ;, Gordon said.
Brian Lippman, the original head coach, told Gwinnett Prep Sports: “Our players come from everywhere. We had no child from the state of Georgia on the team until mid-February. We recruit from everywhere. & # 39;
AlwaysLive organized high school basketball tournaments and provided players with video that they could use for university recruitment bids.
Gordon, the former Southern regional director of AlwaysLive, told DailyMail.com that the goal was to get 100 teams to a tournament, each for $ 350 to participate and to raise more than $ 300,000 in one weekend for spending.
& # 39; It was a good vision, & # 39; said Gordon, who was fired when Williams came aboard because the new man wanted to bring in his own team. & # 39; But they didn't really have the experience.
& # 39; They had no idea of the AAU world & # 39 ;, he added, referring to the Amateur Athletic Union,
Gordon said he had organized one tournament with 95 teams. & # 39; However, they did not all pay because we were new and I gave them deals to interest them in the future, & # 39; he said.
FBI agents raid Mann & # 39; s remote $ 500,000 mansion (photo) on the shores of Great Sacandaga Lake in Edinburgh, New York, last Monday
Agents spent about an hour at home. It is not assumed that arrests have been made and it is unclear what investigators have removed from the house
A researcher (above) is seen outside of Mann & # 39; s house. Half a dozen law enforcement vehicles dropped at the house in the small town of Edinburgh, New York around 4:30 PM
MyPayrollHR and its owner, ValueWise, operated from adjacent suites on the second floor – numbers 220 and 240 – in an inconspicuous office building (upstairs) in Clifton Park, New York
He described Mann as & # 39; a big teddy bear from a man, maybe 6ft. 3in. and completely obsessed with basketball. & # 39; He said he and Mann went to the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio in 2018 together.
A statement prepared by FBI special agent Matthew Wabby said that Mann had admitted in interviews that he had a long-standing scheme of & # 39; kite flying & # 39; had checks – they write into one account and deposit them into another trying to make him have more money than he did.
The statement stated that Mann and his attorney visited the office of the US Attorney for the Northern District on September 10, and & # 39; stated that he wanted to accept responsibility for his behavior and acknowledged that he had implemented a fraudulent plan for years & # 39 ;
Wabby said that Mann started his fraud around 2010 or 2011 by setting up companies that had no other purpose than to be used in his fraud.
& # 39; He claimed that he had committed fraud in response to business and financial pressures, and that he used almost all fraudulent means to support certain things and to buy and start new ones & # 39 ;, Wabby wrote.
Neither Lincoln Academy nor AlwaysLive were mentioned in the statement.
Mann first came to the attention when MyPayrollHR closed, leaving thousands of employees across the country without their biweekly salary. Many later found that money had been taken from their bank account.
Mann & # 39; s lawyer Michael Koenig, who said his client is cooperating in the FBI investigation, has not sent back calls for comment.
Do you have a photo of Michael Mann? Email Martin.Gould@Mailonline.com
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