Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

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Former Atlanta schools official fights fraud accusations

Allegations of crimes can have harmful effects on the careers of public officials, especially when those allegations involve fraud or public corruption. A recent example of how damaging a mere allegation of corruption can be for a civil servant is that of an ex-Atlanta school district chief information officer, who has been indicted on seven federal criminal charges.

The former official stands accused of allegedly accepting payments from a school contractor in order to ensure the contractor won the school's business. Authorities claim these payments totaled $60,000, and the contracts awarded to the company were worth over $700,000. They further allege that the defendant concealed the fact that he owned two technology companies which also profited from the arrangement. The defendant has pleaded not guilty and has been released on bond.

Payments like these, commonly known as kickbacks, are considered by law enforcement to be a form of public corruption when a government official accepts them. Since fraud is often charged at the federal level, a conviction can carry severe penalties, possibly including jail time, fines and supervised parole which could take years to complete. Defendants may even find that such criminal charges impact their current employment, even though they are still legally presumed innocent until proven guilty. The former Atlanta schools official in this case resigned from his position as chief of staff of a Dallas school district prior to the indictment.

Any Fulton County residents who find themselves facing charges of fraud would be well advised to seek experienced legal counsel to aid in their defense. Often, statements defendants make to police or prosecutors with the intent of providing assistance or being transparent can end up being used against them at trial. Legal counsel, however, can help defendants protect their interests and rights under the law.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Ex APS tech chief indicted for alleged kickback scheme," Mark Niesse and Bill Rankin, June 3, 2013

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Nick Lotito & Seth Kirschenbaum

Former Federal Prosecutors

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