DALLAS (CN) – The former owner of a pair of Illinois-based technology companies has been sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison for her role in a scheme to bribe school officials to land federal contracts for providing Internet service in several states.
Gloria Harper, 59, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans on Thursday. She pleaded guilty in June of last year.
Harper was charged in November of 2010 of conspiring to defraud the federal E-Rate program by providing bribes and kickbacks to school officials in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois and Louisiana. The E-Rate program awards subsidies to economically disadvantaged schools and libraries, paying 20 to 90 percent of the cost for Internet access and telecommunications services, as well as internal computer and communications networks.
She is the former owner of Global Networking Technologies Inc. and Computer Training Associates. Prosecutors say she participated in the scheme from December of 2001 through September of 2005, providing bribes and kickbacks to school officials and employees at schools schools in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, and Louisiana. In return, those bribed gave control of the E-Rate competitive bidding process to Harper and a co-conspirator, allowing them to steer the contracts for themselves.
Harper is one of 24 people and seven companies who have pleaded guilty, been convicted at trial or entered civil settlements in the wake of an investigation involving the E-Rate program.
“Those companies and individuals have been sentenced to pay criminal fines and restitution totaling more than $40 million,” prosecutors said in a written statement. “Nineteen individuals, including Harper, have been sentenced to serve prison time. In June 2011, Barrett C. White and Tyrone Pipkin, Harper’s co-conspirators, were each sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison for their roles in the conspiracy.”