Crime

Culver guilty of defrauding Bibb County schools in $3.7-million computing swindle

Culver found guilty on all counts by federal jury

Isaac Culver found guilty on all counts by federal jury and doesn't want to comment; his attorney Ed Garland says he expects an appeal.
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Isaac Culver found guilty on all counts by federal jury and doesn't want to comment; his attorney Ed Garland says he expects an appeal.

Isaac J. Culver III sat still and stared straight ahead Tuesday as guilty verdict after guilty verdict was read in U.S. District Court here as he was convicted of defrauding Bibb County schools half a decade ago.

The balding Culver, dressed in a deep-blue suit with an American flag pin on its lapel, slowly shook his head when a courtroom clerk was done reading.

He had been found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud and another count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of unlawful activity.

At sentencing, which will come later, Culver could be sent to prison for 20 years on each charge and face a possible multimillion-dollar fine. His business partner, Dave Carty, faces similar fraud charges and will be tried later.

Culver’s crimes happened in connection with a $3.7-million computing deal between his company and the Bibb school system in late 2012.

His scheme came to light after now-departed school superintendent Romain Dallemand’s controversial tenure ended in early 2013, and officials began scrutinizing business done on Dallemand’s watch.

Culver, 48, is president and CEO of Progressive Consulting Technologies Inc., a Macon-based company that was hired and paid $1 million by the schools to oversee parts of a $50-million-plus computing upgrade.

His crimes revolved around the Bibb schools’ purchase of 15,000 computing devices that were to be installed in school offices, labs and classrooms. The devices cost Progressive about $1.7 million. Progressive then sold the devices — using an unwitting Ohio firm as a go-between to mask the sale — to Bibb schools for $3.7 million, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Culver’s company acquired the devices and then made the improper sale to the school system by making it appear the schools were buying them from an Ohio company, not Progressive. Investigators said Culver made $120,000 in personal profit.

A jury of five women and seven men in the week-long trial deliberated for about two hours over parts of two days before finding Culver guilty Tuesday morning.

“The jury reached the correct verdict today,” assistant U.S. attorney Danial Bennett said, reading prepared remarks to reporters. “We are now shifting our focus to the co-defendant in this case. ... We are satisfied that justice has been rendered with respect to Isaac Culver.”

Culver, who resigned as board chairman of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce when he was indicted last June, declined to comment as he left the Mulberry Street courthouse late Tuesday morning.

With Ed Garland, one of his attorneys at his side, Culver made his way to a nearby car.

“We do expect to appeal,” Garland said.

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