MANHATTAN — A former Department of Education computer consultant ripped off nearly $4 million from city schools to fund a lavish lifestyle — the latest in a string of black marks for city contractors, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
William "Ross" Lanham allegedly blew the $3.6 million in cash on high-end cars, including a Lexus, Corvette, Porsche and Cadillac Escalade as well as real estate, including three homes on Long Island.
Lanham, who earned $1.7 million working for the DOE, surrendered to federal authorities Thursday morning on mail fraud and theft charges. He could face 20 years in jail if convicted.
IBM and Verizon, vendors for "Project Connect," are accused of turning a blind eye to the alleged scheme, according to a report by Richard Condon, Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools, also released Thursday.
"IBM and Verizon, by their silence, facilitated this fraud," the report said. Neither company was charged.
Condon's report also slams the DOE for lax oversight.
"It is difficult to understand how the DOE could allow so much power to reside in a consultant, even an honest one, which Lanham was not. Project Connect was a billion dollar undertaking, yet no one exercised any oversight of Lanham," it read.
Indeed it is.
The DOE under Bloomberg is famous for its oversight and accountability measures for teachers, but apparently doesn't seem to give a shit about oversight and accountability of consultants or vendors.
John Liu will take action to rectify this lack of oversight and Scott Stringer has connected this disturbing lack of oversight and accountability to teacher layoffs:
City Comptroller John Liu has also directed a review of contracts with all vendors accused of wrongdoing in the report.
"Federal charges once again, that a consultant has stolen millions from the taxpayers, are infuriating enough. Even more disconcerting, however, are indications that corporations with billions of dollars in City business have aided and abetted and profited from the scam," Liu said in a statement, which called for greater oversight of city subcontracting.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also slammed the DOE for spending so much on technology without sufficient oversight.
"At a time when the Department of Education is still threatening to lay off more than 4,000 teachers, it is extremely distressing to learn that the department can’t seem to keep track of its own contractors — or the money they spend," he said in a statement.
Bloomberg CANNOT get his way on these layoffs or budget cuts when he is spending so lavishly on tech contracts and the consultants themselves are STEALING millions.