Alabama Man Allegedly Got Rich Selling Computers The Government Gave To Schools

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Thomas Phippen Thomas Phippen is acting editor in chief at the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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Government prosecutors charged an Alabama man with fraud Wednesday for a scheme in which he allegedly obtained computers from the government intended for schools and resold them for a profit.

The Dwight Baptist Academy in Dwight, Ill., thought Steven Mays was helping them get free computer equipment from a government education program, but he was actually keeping most of the equipment and reselling it from his Athens, Ala., electronics store and on eBay for his own profit, prosecutors allege.

Over a 10 year period between 2007 and 2017, Mays allegedly sold $22 million worth of computer equipment he obtained for Dwight Baptist Academy from Computers for Learning program, a federal program run by the General Services Administration, which provides technical equipment to non-profit schools at no cost. (RELATED: Former School Officials Charged With Stealing $3 Million In Student Meals)

It’s unclear how Mays began working with Dwight Baptist — the school did not immediately return calls from The Daily Caller News Foundation — but he created at least four separate accounts on the government’s website to request additional equipment on behalf of the school, according to the indictment. Some of the equipment apparently made it to the students, but much more of it — at least $22 million, according to prosecutors — went into Mays’ inventory for resale.

“Unbeknownst to Dwight Baptist, [Mays] acquired much more computer equipment in Dwight Baptist’s name … and used that computer equipment to enrich himself,” prosecutors said in court documents filed Wednesday.

Mays allegedly told the school that some of the equipment was “junk,” and that he had to take it back to his store in Alabama to refurbish it, according to prosecutors. He had other people help him transport the equipment across state lines. The ill-gotten equipment he couldn’t move in his store or at online auctions would sometimes be sold to electronic recycling centers for scrap. He dumped other items, according to the indictment.

An employee at Mays Computers & Outdoor Sales store, which shares the same number as a Facebook page for Mays Computers, told TheDCNF that Mays would be out of the store for several days and unreachable due to neck and back surgery related to a recent automobile accident. The employee requested that TheDCNF not publish his name.

Local news reports say that Mays Computers and & Outdoor Sales was under a federal investigation in October. Mays faces a 20-year prison sentence if convicted.

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