Boise & Garden City

Teachers, students leave Boise Christian school after phone smuggling indictments

In late August 2018, this Petra Academy bulletin board held photos of students and their fathers.
In late August 2018, this Petra Academy bulletin board held photos of students and their fathers. adutton@idahostatesman.com

The future of a small private Christian school in Boise is in flux after its chairman was indicted last month as part of a cellphone smuggling ring.

Petra Academy’s chairman, Peter Babichenko, is one of 10 people named in a federal indictment Aug. 22.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that prosecutors claim the group defrauded customers by buying counterfeit electronic devices and then repackaging and selling them as new products online. Eight of the people are Babichenko family members.

Peter Babichenko vehemently denies the charges against him and his family. He told the newspaper he’s worried about the future of the school, which serves about 40 students.

Many of the family’s assets were frozen, and the school and church building were seized after authorities raided homes and businesses in August.

Two teachers quit and some families pulled students from the school.

In August, church members told the Statesman that the school and associated Morning Star Christian Church actually belong to the full congregation, who tithed for years to buy it.

U.S. Attorney Bart Davis told the Statesman in early September that he hoped church members take advantage of a method to ask for the building back.

Statesman staff contributed.

Morning Star Christian Church in Boise and a school that are on a list of properties seized by federal authorities as part of indictments against the Babichenko family is still operating, but members say its bank account was frozen.

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