The foundation for Compass Academy is laid and it's 80 percent complete, but today its leader was in court instead of on campus.
Compass Academy is caught in the middle of a securities fraud civil suit: Assistant attorneys general have frozen Compass' assets, and those of Jay Brooks financial, whose owner is married to Compass' founder, Tracy Brooks. They are alleging fraud and deceit.
“[Freezing the assets] is a very serious matter that's something that's only been done a handful of times in 20 years,” says Assistant Attorney General Andrew MacLeod. “It's something that's not taken lightly.”
More than a dozen potential Compass parents and investors traveled to Columbia to support Tracy Brooks and Compass Academy. One investor says he put in more than 100,000 dollars and he'd be happy to put more.
“There are some disgruntled lenders, but a majority are not, the majority know the need for the school,” says Gerald Rowe who testified.
Jay Brooks says it's all about the school, even if he isn't a part of it.
“It's everything,” he says, “it's why I'm willing to step away, whatever I have to do to make sure that school goes up, I'm willing to do it.
The assistant attorney general says, that isn't the point.
“It's not about Compass, it's about the securities,” says MacLeod. “No one here is talking about the merits of Compass Academy, we're talking about the merits of Mr. Brooks' financial dealings.”
Attorneys for the Brooks say Compass must be completed, if not even the lenders lose.
“You would then have a big white whale in Aiken County with no prospects of it making income,” says James Huff, representing Jay Brooks.
“Whether there's some question as to whether everybody agreed to their funds being placed in Compass Academy, the truth is the building is built, it will be open in two months,” says Stan Jackson representing Compass.
So, where do you go from here to be sure that money doesn't out the window?
“The only way to get our money out of it is the kids walking down the halls,” says Rowe, “because used dry wall and windows that have been put in place aren't worth much on the resale market.”
And before that happens, it will be back to court.
Previously South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Tracy Meyers explained that the suit claims that Brooks took money from clients' investments and put them into Compass Academy, an unregistered security.