Governor French Academy has filed suit against a Washington County resident, alleging the academy was frauded out of large sums of money.

GFA claims Kevin Welch contacted it in 2000 in hopes of trying to lease the academy a copier/printer. During his sales pitch, Welch also indicated he could obtain equipment lease financing for the copier through SBP Leasing.

Based upon Welch's spiel, GFA agreed to sign an equipment lease contract with SBP Leasing, according to the complaint filed May 14 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Subsequently, GFA entered into six new lease contracts based upon Welch's advice, the suit states.

Each time GFA entered into a new contract, Welch promised the academy the lease would be used to pay off any obligations under old leases, GFA claims.

However, GFA began receiving bills for lease payments related to old leases, the complaint says.

When it asked Welch what was happening, Welch responded that the paperwork was slow and the problem would be taken care of, according to the complaint.

But in March, GFA began receiving certified demand letters related to the old leases, the suit states.

GFA claims Welch was using the money it was sending him for his own use and not to pay off previous leases as promised.

"Welch entered into and promoted a scheme of transactions with GFA wherein Welch would make a lease with GFA through a financing company such as Great American Leasing, SBP Leasing, Wells Fargo, Marlin Leasing, CIT or AEL who then become the lessor for the purposes of receiving monthly payments from GFA," the suit states.

GFA is seeking actual damages in excess of $50,000, plus unspecified punitive damages, attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

It will be represented by Kevin J. Stine of Mathis, Marifian, Richter and Grandy.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-252.

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