Inside the century-old, white-marble federal courthouse that faces the headquarters of Bibb County’s public schools, the final chapter of alleged conspiratorial malfeasance with tentacles that reached the highest seat of educational authority here played out Friday in a jury-deliberation room.
Twelve jurors, six women and six men from across the region, deliberated for more than four hours before finding the man on trial, Dave L. Carty, not guilty on all but one of 13 charges in alleged scamming of the school system in a $3.7-million computer-device deal. Carty was acquitted of all charges except a single count of wire fraud for sending an email to an Ohio firm as part of the computer transaction.
The verdict came on the heels of two other public-corruption trials here in the past six months — one tied to the Carty case and the other to alleged bribery. Both cases were linked to ex-superintendent of schools Romain Dallemand, whose embattled two-year reign early this decade rendered him the focal point of a high-profile federal probe that struck at the heart of public trust.
Dallemand has pleaded guilty to tax evasion in exchange for his testimony in the three trials, which stemmed from two criminal cases. In all, four men, Carty being the fourth, went on trial. Two, including Carty and his business partner, were convicted of crimes.
The case against Carty, 49, revolved around the 2012 sale of 15,000 computing devices to the Bibb schools. Carty was accused of doctoring invoices to make it appear that Ohio firm had made the $3.7-million sale, when in fact Carty’s company, Progressive Consulting Technologies, was the vendor. Prosecutors said Progressive had bought the devices for $1.7 million.
Carty had been accused of 13 crimes in all, including money laundering and multiple counts of wire and mail fraud, all of which his business partner at Progressive, Isaac J. Culver III, was convicted of in July. Culver is serving a seven-year sentence at a federal prison in Talladega, Alabama.
Carty will be sentenced later. As he left the courthouse Friday evening with his lawyers at his side, one of the attorneys, Franklin J. Hogue, offered no comment other than to say, “We’re disappointed.”
The computer-device deal in Carty’s case happened toward the end of Dallemand’s stormy 28-month tenure as schools boss. Prosecutors at trial this week said that Dallemand helped push the purchase through, in essence, ensuring that it was rubber-stamped.
In his closing argument, assistant U.S. attorney Danial Bennett described Carty and Culver’s roles as a business “partnership in fraud.” Bennett said the pair’s alleged misdeeds resulted in a personal “windfall.”
Carty did not take the stand. His lawyers argued that he was merely doing as he was told by Culver: to route the computer sale through the Ohio firm, CompTech, which supposedly had a government-purchasing approval that Progressive did not, which streamlined the deal.
Defense attorney Laura Hogue told jurors in her closing argument that “the only question in this case is why Dave Carty sent that invoice template to (the Ohio firm) in the first place.” The reason, she said, was that Carty believed Culver, who supposedly told Carty the school system and its leaders wanted the deal done that way “because there was no time for a bid.”
Hogue added that the deal proceeded amid the “politics and chaos” wrought by “a disgraced superintendent.”
Dallemand, who was not charged in the Progressive case, has pleaded guilty to unrelated tax-evasion charges. As part of his plea agreement, Dallemand took the stand earlier this week.
His connection to the Progressive case is peripheral. He testified that he knew of the school’s purchase and was in favor of it, and prosecutors said he urged school officials to approve it. Dallemand testified that he was told by Culver that the workings of the $3.7-million purchase were “industry standard.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.