Consultant Accused of Stealing $3.6M From the N.Y. Dept. of Ed

NEW YORK — A former technology consultant stole $3.6 million from the Department of Education (DOE) over a six year period, according to federal authorities. Willard Lanham allegedly directed these funds to “Lanham Enterprises,” a company he owned and controlled and that did no work to justify receiving the funds.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that Lanham used the funds, which he skimmed off the top of Project Connect and related projects, to buy fancy cars and valuable real estate, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Lanham surrendered to federal authorities on Thursday on charges of mail fraud and theft, the New York Times reports. He is accused of using contractors and subcontractors to hide his criminal activities; each of the contractors earned a profit in the scheme.  Lanham had been receiving $200,000 a year from the city as a consultant.

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According to the press release, Lanham first orchestrated the hiring of outside consultants, including his own brother, to work for him on the three DOE projects that he oversaw. He arranged it so that his company, Lanham Enterprises, would pay these consultants directly. He billed a subcontractor working on Project Connect for the work performed by the consultants, and he did so at a much higher rate than what he had actually paid the consultants. He then pocketed the difference.

To conceal the criminal scheme, he never disclosed to his supervisors at the DOE that Lanham Enterprises was profiting from the work done by the consultants. In fact, throughout this scheme, Lanham affirmatively misled the DOE and the contractors and subcontractors that he was responsible for overseeing for the DOE.

The DOE has now put new safeguards in place including in-house contract manager, according to the New York Times.

Lanham was ordered to surrender his passport, get a job and not incur any new lines of credit by United States Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz. His bond was set a $250,000.

Read the full story.

Read the press release.

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