Crime

Disgraced Dallemand back on stand in Macon trial involving $3.7-million school fraud

What you need to know about the bribery court case involving Bibb schools

The indictment of Cliffard Whitby and Harold Knowles involves the Bibb County School District, former superintendent Romain Dallemand and several other organizations. This video explains the basic information needed to understand the court case.
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The indictment of Cliffard Whitby and Harold Knowles involves the Bibb County School District, former superintendent Romain Dallemand and several other organizations. This video explains the basic information needed to understand the court case.

Romain Dallemand, the disgraced former superintendent of Bibb County’s public schools, was back in town on Wednesday to testify before a third federal jury in connection with alleged public corruption that happened during his 28-month tenure earlier this decade.

This time Dallemand, who has since moved to south Florida, was called to the witness stand to share his recollection of events surrounding the $3.7 million purchase of computing devices the school system made in late 2012.

The purchase came under the scrutiny of federal investigators on the heels of Dallemand’s departure as superintendent nearly six years ago. The man on trial, Dave L. Carty, was a co-owner of Macon-based Progressive Consulting Technologies Inc., which orchestrated the in-question computer-device sale.

At issue is whether Progressive defrauded the school system by allegedly scamming school officials into believing the schools were buying the devices from an Ohio firm. Prosecutors contend that Carty, 49, and his business partner, Isaac J. Culver III, actually bought the devices from a manufacturer, jacked up the price by $2 million and used the Ohio firm as a pass-through to sell the computers to Bibb schools.

Culver was tried separately and convicted last year of money laundering and multiple counts of mail and wire fraud in the case. He is serving a seven-year prison term.

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.

Dallemand, the ex-schools boss, is not charged in the case but has pleaded guilty to tax evasion in exchange for his testimony in alleged wrongdoing by others linked to him.

In another case last fall involving the alleged bribery of Dallemand, the two men on trial were acquitted. But while on the stand in that matter, Dallemand spoke of his own ruination. He came perhaps the closest he ever has to making a public apology for the administrative and educational upheaval on his watch.

“I lied to the children. I lied to the parents of this community. ... I am not here to say that I am not a liar. What I’m saying is that I am here to tell the truth about what happened,” Dallemand said in that late September proceeding.

But on Wednesday here in U.S. District Court, the ex-superintendent who was in office from early 2011 until mid-2013, said little to nothing of the bureaucratic chaos his professional failures wrought. His connection to the Carty case, at least legally, is peripheral at best. He knew of the computer deal and was in favor of it, and his favoring it may have expedited it. Aside from that, Dallemand testified under direct examination by a prosecutor that he was told the workings of the $3.7 million purchase were “industry standard.”

As he understood it, the devices would allow multiple students and teachers to use the same computer simultaneously. “I liked the idea that it would bring significant savings,” he said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, an employee for the Ohio firm that was used as a go-between to sell the computers to Bibb schools read a pair of emails Carty sent to that firm in December 2012, just before the deal was completed. Prosecutors contend it indicates, in essence, Carty helped doctor the computer deal to make it appear the Ohio firm was the one selling the devices.

One of the emails from Carty read: “Please transcribe this quote to an invoice with your official letterhead and send back to me.”

Testimony was set to resume at 8 a.m. Thursday.

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.


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