A cuckolded computer consultant hired to link the city’s 1,400 schools to the Internet has been charged with downloading $3.6 million into his crooked pockets.
Willard (Ross) Lanham, aided by corporate giants IBM and Verizon, masterminded the massive fraud to enjoy a life of luxury from 2002 to 2008, according to a scathing report from the special schools investigator. “Lanham effectively stole from schoolchildren so he could buy fancy cars and valuable real estate,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Prosecutors described Lanham’s greed as staggering. He was charged with looting the Department of Education while earning a $200,000 annual salary and living with his family in a sprawling, two-story Long Island home.
As he earned an illegal fortune off phony companies, inflated fees and a pair of no-show jobs, officials said, he built three luxury homes on a piece of abandoned Long Island farmland.
Once finished, Lanham even named the private street after his estranged wife, Laura Lanham.
The couple have since endured a long, angry and ongoing three-year divorce, with the wife dumping her 57-year-old husband to pursue younger men while blogging about her “cougar” lifestyle…
The probe, aided by the city Department of Investigation, found Lanham was hired to work on three major DOE projects – including the highly touted “Project Connect.”
The scam was simple: He hired contractors at low hourly rates, persuaded subcontractors to bill the city at a much higher rate and pocketed the difference, officials said.
In all, his Lanham Enterprises allegedly was paid $5.3 million for consulting work that cost his company only $1.7 million.
The accused swindler even ripped off his own brother, hiring him for a $40-an-hour consulting job while charging the city $225 an hour, a criminal complaint charged.
IBM and Verizon kept their corporate mouths shut over anything they may have noticed in the course of the fraud. I’m never surprised when systems run by elected officials are inefficient – though they needn’t be. Corporate governance should be a bit more consistent.
Verizon has said they will return any inappropriate profits. Nice of them.