Alleged multimillion-dollar Bibb schools scam hinged on ‘shocking, disappointing betrayal’

Isaac J. Culver III leaves federal courthouse after judge sentences him to 87 months

Isaac J. Culver III, convicted of defrauding Bibb County, leaves courthouse after U.S. District Court Judge Marc Treadwell sentenced him to seven years and three months in federal prison.
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Isaac J. Culver III, convicted of defrauding Bibb County, leaves courthouse after U.S. District Court Judge Marc Treadwell sentenced him to seven years and three months in federal prison.

Testimony began Tuesday in the third — and in all likelihood the last — criminal trial related to allegedly crooked business transactions involving Bibb County’s public schools during the mercurial tenure of ex-superintendent Romain Dallemand.

The man on trial, Dave L. Carty, accused of mail and wire fraud and money laundering, was formally charged in June 2017.

Earlier this decade, Carty and his business partner Isaac J. Culver III, president and CEO of Progressive Consulting Technologies, a Macon-based firm they co-owned, won a multimillion-dollar contract to oversee computing upgrades for the county’s schools.

Back in 2012, Progressive enlisted an Ohio firm to sell $1.7 million worth of computer devices to Bibb schools for $3.7 million.

Prosecutors contend that Carty and Culver used the Ohio firm as a “pass through” for millions in wire and mail transfers in late 2012 to make it appear that the school system was buying the devices from the Ohio firm when in fact Progressive had purchased them. According to the indictment, Progressive marked up the prices of the NComputing devices, as well as support services and installation.

Culver was convicted last year of the fraud charges against him and is serving a seven-year sentence at a federal prison in Alabama.

On Tuesday, during opening statements in Carty’s trial, federal prosecutor Elizabeth S. Howard described Carty and Culver as partners in crime. She said they “devised a scheme to defraud” the Bibb schools, and that their “ruse” in late 2012 was to broker a deal and mark up the cost of the computing devices by more than $2 million.

One of Carty’s lawyers, Franklin J. Hogue, introduced the 49-year-old Carty to the jury of seven women and eight men — three of whom are alternates — telling how Carty grew up in St. Croix and as a boy came to love computers when his father brought home a Timex Sinclair 1000 personal computer.

Carty later earned a scholarship to Mercer University to study information technology. It was there he met Culver and the two became friends and, for 25 years after that, the men were business partners.

Culver, Hogue said, was “the face” of the company, the salesman, and Carty, the chief operating officer, was the tech guy, the software designer.

“They made a pretty good team,” Hogue said, “and Dave trusted Isaac Culver. ... This case is about the shocking and disappointing betrayal and loss of that trust.”

The government’s case, at least in part, may hinge on emails Carty is said to have sent to the Ohio company — one that Culver had the main connection to — with invoice templates for the NComputing devices, requesting, in essence, that the Ohio firm bill the Bibb schools.

“Dave sent those emails,” Hogue said, “because Isaac had led him to believe” it was above board.

Hogue said Carty thought the purchase had been approved by the schools and that it was imperative the devices be bought by year’s end.

“Romain Dallemand was a man in a hurry,” Hogue said of the former superintendent.

Emails between Culver and the head of the Ohio company are also pivotal in the case. They appear to show Culver coaching the Ohio firm on how to answer questions Bibb school officials posed in the aftermath of the deal.

“Dave Carty did not even know Culver sent those emails ... until years later,” Hogue said. “(Carty’s) intent in all of this was to achieve the goal for which his company had been hired: to put a computer in every classroom available to every student. To bring Bibb County into the modern era. ... Dave Carty did not defraud anybody.”

Testimony in set to resume Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Joe Kovac Jr. covers crime and courts for The Telegraph with an eye for human-interest stories. A Warner Robins native, he joined the paper in 1991 after graduating from the University of Georgia.