On December 11, 2008, Cynthia K. Ayer, Bambarg County (South Carolina) School District’s former technology coordinator, pled guilty for her role in a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Communication Commission’s E-Rate Program and agreed to serve two years in jail and pay a criminal fine of $468,496.
The Telecommunication Act of 1996 authorized the E-Rate Program to provide economically disadvantaged school districts and libraries with funds to connect to the Internet.
Ms. Ayer allegedly committed mail fraud by requesting funds she was not entitled to and caused Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) to mail her a $25,243 check made payable to her company, Go Between. Initially indicted in April 2006 by a federal grand jury in Colombia, SC, Ms. Ayer will also pay a restitution fee to USAC.
As a result of this ongoing investigation a total of seven companies and 17 individuals have pleaded guilty, have been convicted and found guilty, or entered civil settlements, resulting in more than $40 million in criminal fines, civil settlements and restitution and jail sentences totaling nearly 29 years. Trials are currently pending in three additional E-Rate cases, and one individual remains an international fugitive.