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Discovery Tours former vice president pleads guilty to embezzling $610k from company

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Posted at 3:58 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 15:58:39-04

CLEVELAND  — The former vice president of Discovery Tours has pleaded guilty to devising a scheme to take payments for trips for schools and then canceling the trips and using the funds for personal expenses.

Joseph Cipolletti, 47, from Hudson has pleaded guilty to an 18-count indictment that charged him with wire fraud, money laundering, bank fraud and false statement under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding.

In 2018, the family-run Discovery Tours Inc. collapsed, prompting the sudden cancellation of school trips for dozens of districts across Ohio.

Families of the students who were set to go on the Washington D.C. trip had paid as much as $500 to reserve their child’s spot. The sudden insolvency of Discovery Tours Inc. put area school districts in a bind as some opted to use public money to diffuse the loss, while others tried to help families through private donations.

According to court documents, more than 5,000 students were impacted by the cancellations.

From June 2014 to May 2018, Cipolletti embezzled money for his personal use and then later claimed the embezzled money was for trip-related expenses. Authorities say that he cooked the books and made false entries in the company's ledger, according to court documents.

According to court records, Cipolletti claimed that he did not owe his business any money when, in fact, he had embezzled more than $600,000 from his place of business and made false entries in the general ledger.

The total amount of loss will be determined by the Court at sentencing.

Cipolletti is scheduled to be sentenced on November 29, 2022.

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