Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

School employee pleads guilty to defrauding Plainfield District of $20,000 in Bayway Lumber case

The US Attorney is working his way through the Bayway Lumber frauds.

The shoe finally dropped on the Bayway Lumber-Plainfield School District fraud case Wednesday.

Robert E. Banks, a carpenter and locksmith for the District, pled guilty Wednesday in federal court in Trenton to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

According to information from US Attorney Paul Fishman's office (see here), Banks conspired with employees of Bayway Lumber to defraud the District of nearly $20,000 over a period from 2007 to September 2015.

This was done in a variety of ways, including inflating invoices and billing for items never actually shipped. Banks, who had purchasing authority, then signed off on the fraudulent invoices.

As a reward, Banks received more than $9,000 in goods, including a laptop, a lawnmower, and a dishwasher.

Not mentioned in the US Attorney's press release is the fact that Bayway Lumber lost its certification as a state contract supplier as of January 2015. Since this fraud went on until September of that year, one wonders what kind of controls exist in the District's purchasing routines.

When I raised the question in February of whether any employees or Board members knew of the fraud (see post here), then-Board President Wilma Campbell took fright and had a questionable walk-on resolution passed at the Board's March 1 meeting authorizing the District to lawyer up to defend her from any accusations in the matter (see more on that matter here).

Banks will be sentenced in August and faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

See media coverage here -- Ledger | Courier | TAP | PolitickerNJ |

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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