ATLANTA -- Former Atlanta Public Schools Chief Information Officer Jerome Oberlton pleaded guilty on Wedensday to federal charges of receiving kickbacks in exchange for using his influence to award a $780,000 project to a computer vendor.
US Attorney Sally Yates presented evidence in court noting that Oberlton had overall management responsibility for the school system's information technology program.
"Mr. Oberlton abused his position as APS' Chief Information Officer when he took payoffs in exchange for the award of a lucrative computer contract," said Yates in a statement. "His fraud diverted scarce educational resources from the APS students who needed them to a vendor that was willing to pay to play."
Yates said that in January 2007, the APS issued a request for proposal for a data warehousing project geared toward the centralization of information for APS operations and student information in a secure, easily accessible manner.
Evidence was presented that indicated that Oberlton and co-defendant Mahendra Patel conspired to influence the bidding process for the project and caused the winning bidder to be selected in exchange for kickbacks. Patel was tied to a Michigan-based company that received the contract through thebidding process.
Oberltonworked as chief information officer for APS from June 2004 through August 2007. He was most recently chief of staff for the Dallas (Tex.)Independent School District before his resignation in May 2013, shortly after he was indicted.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring with Patel and others to accept bribes, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The courts have received a recommendation that Oberlton receive a sentence of 41 months in prison, that he pay $735,130 in restitution and perform 1,000 hours of community service. Oberlton will be sentenced on March 24, 2014.
Patel pleaded guilty last August to conspiring with Oberlton to accept bribes.
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