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California Man Pleads Guilty in Fraud Scheme to Steal Computer Equipment Intended for Non-profit Schools

On January 3, 2014, Steven A. Bolden of Palmdale, California, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Tacoma, Washington, to charges relating to his role in a scheme to transfer computer equipment to himself that was originally purchased by the U.S. Government for more than $25 million. He presented himself as a representative of non-profit schools eligible to receive excess computers through General Services Administration (GSA)'s Computers for Learning (CFL) program. This program allows for the transfer of surplus computers and technology equipment to schools and nonprofit educational groups.

OIG began investigating Bolden based on information received from the Federal Highway Administration, Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFLHD), Vancouver, Washington. In March 2011, the WFLHD posted a pallet of 15 computers, initially costing the government $13,950, on the CFL website. Soon after, a person requested those computers on behalf of the Los Angeles Academy of Educational Development (LAAED). In April 2011, the computers were shipped from the WFLHD to the LAAED. The WFLHD became suspicious when they received a bill for the shipment from UPS in September 2011. Shipping costs were supposed to be paid by the LAAED, but UPS was unable to contact that entity or Bolden to collect payment. Our investigation determined that the LAAED was not a legitimate non-profit school.

We are investigating this case jointly with Army Criminal Investigations Division; Department of Homeland Security OIG; Department of Energy OIG; Department of Justice OIG; FBI; GSA-OIG; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division; Social Security Administration OIG; and the Veterans Administration OIG.