California Man Who Fraudulently Obtained and Sold Computers Destined for Schools and Non-Profits Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
On February 5, 2015, Steven A. Bolden of Palmdale, California, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Seattle, Washington, to 120 months incarceration and ordered to pay over $7.2 million in restitution. The sentencing was related to his involvement in a scheme to fraudulently obtain government computer equipment by posing as a non-profit agency. He would then sell the equipment, and pocket the proceeds. Bolden pleaded guilty in January 2014 to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and filing a false income tax return in connection with this scheme.
This investigation was initiated based on information received from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Western Federal Lands Highway Division in Vancouver, Washington. In 2011, FHWA posted a pallet of computers on the website of Computers for Learning, a General Services Administration (GSA) program. This program transfers excess government computers and related peripheral equipment directly to qualified schools and educational non-profit organizations. Soon after they were posted Bolden requested the computers on behalf of a phony non-profit. FHWA shipped the computers as requested, but became suspicious when it received a UPS bill for the shipment. Shipping costs were supposed to be paid by the non-profit, but UPS was unable to contact the entity or Bolden to collect payment.
Between 2007 and 2013, Bolden defrauded the GSA, and other government agencies including FHWA, by posing as 14 different non-profits. After obtaining the free computers he then sold them for personal profit. Over the course of the scheme, Bolden obtained 19,442 items from the program with an original purchase price of $30.3 million. Based on fair market value, the computer equipment that Bolden fraudulently acquired was worth about $7.2 million.
We conducted this investigation jointly with the GSA-OIG, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Department of Justice-OIG, Department of Energy-OIG and the FBI.