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Consultant pleads guilty in APS kickback scheme | Crime

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Consultant pleads guilty in APS kickback scheme
Crime, Schools
Consultant pleads guilty in APS kickback scheme

ATLANTA -- A Kennesaw man has pleaded guilty to being part of a kickback scheme involving Atlanta Public Schools.

Mahendra Patel admitted in federal court that he conspired with APS chief information officer Jerome Oberlton to benefit from a certain firm receiving a $780,000 computer project from the school district.

"Patel subverted the fairness of the contracting process for his own benefit and ultimately undermined the trust taxpayers place in APS to provide high-quality educational services," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.

Oberlton pleaded not guilty in federal court in June. His trial date has not yet been set.

Yates said Oberlton and Patel are accused of accepting bribes to allow a Detroit-based technology company to score the lucrative APS project. Oberlton reportedly created two shell companies to which he funneled the money, while Patel's kickback payments were disguised as commission for non-existent consulting work he performed for those companies.

The scheme netted Oberlton and Patel $60,000 over the course of six months, Yates said.

"In a time when educational resources are scarce or often non-existent, his fraud helped steer a lucrative computer contract to the highest bidder -- one that was willing to line his pockets in exchange for work," Yates said of Patel, 45.

Patel faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Crime, Schools