ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — Robert Walberg had control of more than $5 million, and on Thursday night, the father and investor stood accused of helping himself to about $2 million of it.
A huge chunk of that money – amounting to hundreds of thousands – came from the hardworking families paying tuition for their kids’ school. And now, those kids could be kicked out of their own school.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, court documents describe Walberg as “one big Ponzi scheme.”
Walberg billed himself as a financial adviser – the creator of Chartwell Strategies. Prosecutors say that is a lie that spanned from January 2014 to April 2019.
It gave Walberg access to $5.5 million, and prosecutors said he helped himself to $2 million. He spent $733,000 to pay off credit cards, as well as on luxury home improvements, his children’s schools, car payments, groceries, and even country club fees.
“Seeing that this this person embezzled money from our kids is just crushing,” said Jordan Sadoff, a parent at Northwest Suburban Montessori School.
Walberg served as the school board’s treasurer at Northwest Suburban Montessori, with access to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We were the victim of a Ponzi scheme that cost the school over $600,000,” Sadoff said.
Court documents reveal the Arlington Heights school just is just one of more than 20 investors who trusted Walberg with their cash – allowing him to place money in bonds, his hedge, fund or both.
“Unfortunately, due to the selfishness and greed of one person, it’s completely wiped the school out,” Sadoff said.
Sadoff and school leaders say the vanishing reserve money puts the school at risk for the rest of this school year.
“Unfortunately, we are in a dire situation, the school is in need of excess $50,000 in order to be able to keep our school open,” he said.
We stopped by Walberg’s house. He didn’t want to go on camera, but he questions the school’s claims of being in a financial trouble.
“Having those reserves is essential to keeping these doors open,” Sadoff said.
Prosecutors said there is also no evidence that Walberg ever purchased or sold any bonds with the money he was trusted to invest.
The school has started an online fundraiser at SaveOurKidsSchool.com.