Former president and CEO of ATIC, Hugh Bolton. Staff Photo by Jim Witmer

WSU-aligned spy school closing

A former intelligence school previously supported by Wright State University is dissolving, a board member for the closing school confirmed to the Dayton Daily News.

The Advanced Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) for Human Capital Development — a spy school in Beavercreek created a decade ago with heavy government investment — has shuttered its doors and is sold its high-tech building, property records show.

“Everything is being shut down… (ATIC) is dissolving,” said Tom Lasley, chief executive of Learn 2 Earn Dayton, who sits on ATIC’s volunteer governing board.

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Lasley declined to comment further, saying the board would determine who should speak at length to the media about the organization’s fate. No one had provided that information by late Friday.

The school’s former home has ceased operating as a center for worker training, and it’s open today as a conference center to U.S. government personnel who have security clearances.

The ATIC web site offers no regular operating hours, giving hours only “by appointment.”

“We bought just the real estate operations of that,” said Jerad Barnett, president and chief executive of Beavercreek builder and real estate firm Synergy & Mills. “As of right now, the building is 100 percent leased. There is conference space there that the government uses, but it’s through one of the tenants there.”

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Cassie Barlow served as executive director of ATIC beginning in 2014, and today she is chief operating officer of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education.

Barlow declined to comment, saying she left the institute in July 2017.

Radiance Technologies is a tenant in ATIC’s former building, but that company will move to a new home in September, Barnett said.

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“They’ve outgrown their space,” Barnett said. “There could be space available (after the Radiance move) this September. We’re already talking with some users to backfill that space.”

The building at 2685 Hibiscus Way, Beavercreek, was purchased Oct. 1 for $4,241,700, according to Greene County property records.

The property was purchased from the ATIC 501 c3.

ATIC was created in February 2009 in the Synergy & Mills Development’s Pentagon Park office corridor to provide training in cyber security, counter-terrorism and understanding intelligence documents.

The area is replete with defense and government-aligned businesses and interests.

In 2014, ATIC purchased about 26,000 square feet of the building at 2685 Hibiscus Way in Beavercreek for $4.78 million from Mills Morgan, Bob Mills’ Beavercreek-based development company.

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ATIC drew the attention of auditors of Wright State in 2017. The center became an affiliate of the Wright State Applied Research Corp. in 2016.

WSARC Executive Director Dennis Andersh told the Dayton Daily News in 2017 that ATIC was valuable to the university because it was accredited to handle the highest level of top secret government information.

“It gives the university and the community access to a facility that is pretty unique in the country,” Andersh said at that time.

But ATIC struggled financially and in 2014 all of its employees were put on Wright State’s payroll under a management agreement that had the university billing WSARC for the labor.

Auditors in 2017 found that Wright State underbilled by at least $410,000 — money the university would not be able to recover, according to the audit.

ATIC’s financial struggles were known to Wright State officials, according to the audit, but the school wanted to preserve its ties to what it considered to be a community asset. “Therefore, they agreed to hire ATIC’s employees under the management agreement,” the audit said.

Former Wright State president David Hopkins was listed on tax documents as being chairman of ATIC’s board of trustees in tax years 2011 through 2014.

The audit referred to ATIC as a “struggling organization.” But auditors say the nonprofit still “paid its CEO significant bonuses in addition to a high-level salary.”

ATIC CEO Hugh Bolton’s salary, bonuses and deferred compensation totaled $429,956 in 2011, according to the audit. He received $237,572 in bonuses in 2012, bringing his total compensation to $424,611. His compensation dropped to $205,416 in 2013 and in 2014 he was put on Wright State’s payroll at a base salary of $228,000, the audit said.

Wright State University officials have declined to comment on the closing of ATIC or whether the agency reimbursed the university for the funds identified in the audit.

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