Dear Commons Community,
William Lanham, a technology consultant, surrendered to authorities yesterday, accused of stealing $3.6 million over six years from the NYC Department of Education “to finance flashy cars and real estate speculation”. The NY Times is also reporting that there was a certain amount of duplicity in Lanham’s consulting scheme by major corporate subcontractors including Verizon and IBM.
Mr. Lanham, who was being paid $200,000 a year by the city, used layers of contractors and subcontractors to hide his scheme, and each of them profited a little from it, according to the federal complaint. He hired several people, including a brother, to work on the city contract, then billed another company for those hires, marking up the invoices. The company, for its part, charged Verizon or I.B.M., the two major vendors, more than what it had paid Mr. Lanham.
According to a report by Richard J. Condon, a special investigator for the city schools, Verizon and I.B.M., in turn, billed the Education Department, also marking up the amounts. Verizon marked up the bills by $800,000, and I.B.M. by $400,000, said Mr. Condon’s report, which he had forwarded to the federal authorities. “I.B.M. and Verizon, by their silence, facilitated this fraud,” the report said.
Our public schools have enough struggles in trying to develop their technology infrastructure and surely do not need individuals and major corporations ripping them off. While there will always be unsavory individuals who will anything to scam a buck, Verizon and IBM should be ashamed of themselves to have participated in this scheme.