The first criminal case in the half-decade-long legal saga involving alleged schemes to defraud Bibb County public schools during the tenure of ex-Superintendent Romain Dallemand wends its way into a federal courtroom here Monday.
The courthouse sits directly across Mulberry Street from the office where Dallemand, for 28 months until mid-2013, oversaw a school district that would come to be wracked by scandal.
Monday’s trial of Isaac J. Culver III, the head of a Macon technology company accused of fraud in connection with the schools’ 2012 purchase of $3.76 million worth of computing devices, marks the beginning of a series of criminal prosecutions that federal authorities are pursuing.
Culver, CEO of Progressive Consulting Technologies Inc., and the company’s vice president, Dave Carty, were set to go on trial together, but on Wednesday the judge in the case ordered they be tried separately.
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Both face charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and could face millions in fines and up to two decades behind bars if convicted. In June, the men were given the chance to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge in exchange for a maximum five-year prison term. They rejected the offers.
Last year after he was indicted, Culver, now 48, resigned his position as board chairman of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce.
The supposed scheme that federal prosecutors contend Culver and Carty pulled off involved using an Ohio-based company as a pass-through or go-between.
Culver and Carty’s company had been hired by Bibb schools to oversee a massive computer upgrade, but with the apparent understanding that as project managers they could not also serve as a vendor to sell products to the schools.
But prosecutors claim the Ohio firm, CompTech Computer Technologies Inc., was used by Culver and Carty to channel computing devices and services into Bibb schools that the school system was actually buying from Culver and Carty’s firm.
Bibb schools paid $3.76 million for “goods and services” that Culver and Carty’s company bought for $1.75 million, according to the indictment.
Dallemand, who last August pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and under-reporting his income in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors, could take the stand to testify at Culver’s trial.
One of Culver’s lawyers, John Garland of the noted Garland, Samuel & Loeb firm in Atlanta, for the most part declined to comment Friday.
“We are focused on preparing for trial,” Garland said, “and demonstrating the innocence of Isaac Culver.”