Montgomery, Alabama – On Monday, August 17, 2020, Walter James, III, a 49-year-old from Montgomery, Alabama, and former Montgomery Public Schools employee, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell, and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall.
According to court documents, while he was employed by the Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) system, James held himself out to be the owner of a consulting company, “ED-ONE Professional Development Services.” He then collaborated with others at his high school and the MPS central office to submit fraudulent invoices for consulting or professional development services. The invoices listed vague descriptions of the types of services that the vendor supposedly rendered. For example, the invoices would include descriptions such as “books & materials,” “consulting,” or “three-day workshop.” However, James did not provide any professional development services or products of any kind to MPS, nor did any of the purported consulting companies on the corresponding invoices that James submitted for payment. As a result of this scheme, the submission of false invoices from August 2016 to April 2019 gave rise to a loss of more than $250,000.00 to MPS.
James was charged with wire fraud on March 3, 2020. His sentencing hearing will be scheduled in the next few months and he is facing up to 20 years in prison and a significant fine. He will also be subject to an order of restitution for the stolen money.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the Alabama Ethics Commission, and the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Govan and Jonathan Ross are prosecuting the case.