An undercover investigation by the General Services Administration’s watchdog office has traced second-hand computer equipment originally costing the U.S. government about $25 million to more than a dozen sham educational organizations and, ultimately, back to one man: Steven Alexander Bolden.
Federal prosecutors in Tacoma, Wash., earlier this month filed fraud charges against Bolden, saying he tricked the government into believing he represented schools and thus was eligible for access to GSA’s Computers for Learning program.
Under the program, agencies, as permitted by law, can transfer surplus computers and technology equipment to schools and nonprofit educational groups.
The investigation, which was reported on last week by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, began last summer after the IG’s office found 13 nonprofit organizations that received computers through the GSA program. While the groups appeared unaffiliated, they all had ties to Bolden, according to court papers.
“There is probable cause to believe that Bolden engaged in a scheme spanning several years in which he impersonated educational nonprofit organizations into giving him government computers and computer equipment,” prosecutors wrote in an affidavit outlining the probe, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Wash., on May 31.
Charging documents said Bolden received thousands of pieces of computer equipment over the years, keeping it for himself or selling computers through online sales sites such as Craigslist, which was subpoenaed as part of the investigation, records show.
An attorney listed for Bolden listed on the case’s docket did not respond immediately to a phone message Monday.