Schoolhouse Beat

Former chief information officer in Atlanta indicted in kickback scheme

The former chief information officer in the Atlanta school district and an information technology consultant have been indicted in a kickback scheme in connection with a $780,000 computer contract. The FBI says Jerome Oberlton and Mahendra Patel have been charged with with conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The FBI says Oberlton was the chief information officer for Atlanta Public Schools between June 2004 and August 2007 and had overall management responsibility for APS’s information technology program. The indictment charges that from the start of the project in January 2007, Oberlton influenced the request for proposal process and ultimately caused the winning bidder to be selected in exchange for kickbacks. Bribe payments were funneled to Oberlton through shell companies he created, the indictment alleges. Kickbacks to Patel were disguised as sales commissions for non-existent consulting work. The computer company ultimately paid about $60,000 in bribes to Oberlton and Patel, the FBI says.

Oberlton resigned last week from his job as chief of staff to the superintendent of the Dallas school district after disclosing he was the subject of a criminal investigation. He also was chief information officer with the Baltimore city school district from 2011 to 2013

UPDATE: Oberlton and Patel have pleaded not guilty, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says.

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