United States Attorney David Capp
Northern District of Indiana
5400 Federal Plaza, Suite 1500
Hammond, Indiana 46320
Hammond South Bend Fort Wayne
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Mary L. Hatton
May 18, 2010 PHONE: (219) 937-5500
www.usdoj.gov/usao/inn/ Fax: (219) 852-2770
Local Businesswoman Indicted for Defrauding the Federal E-Rate Program and for Theft of Public Funds
Hammond, Indiana—Donna P. English, d/b/a/ Project Managers, Inc. (PMI), was charged in an indictment unsealed today with defrauding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Program and the River Forest Community School District (RFCSC), located in Hobart, Indiana. English, d/b/a/ PMI, was also charged with the theft of public money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that she received as a result of her employment as a technology consultant for the Michigan City Housing Authority, located in Michigan City, Indiana.
According to the indictment, Donna P. English, 52, of Michigan City, Indiana, defrauded the E-Rate Program and RFCSC by submitting false invoices and information to the E-Rate Program, causing RFCSC to submit false information to the E-Rate Program, and accepting payments for services not provided. The indictment further alleges that English accepted “cash advances” from RFCSC for her purported E-Rate services and did not return the cash advances once she received payment from the E-Rate Program. The indictment states that to carry out the fraudulent scheme, English used or caused the use of interstate wire transmissions and the U.S. mail.
English was also charged with felony theft of public funds which were paid to her for technology products and services that English and PMI failed to provide to the Michigan City Housing Authority.
The E-Rate Program, created by Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, provides funds to schools, school districts, and libraries to assist them in connecting to and utilizing the Internet and telephone services. The E-Rate Program is funded by money collected from telecommunications carriers and telephone users, and is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), a not-for-profit corporation acting under the oversight of the FCC. Depending on the financial condition of the applicant, the E-Rate Program can pay up to 90 percent of an applicant’s eligible service costs.
This case was investigated by the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, the United States Department of Education Office of Inspector General, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Indiana State Police, the Federal Communications Commission Office of Inspector General, and the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Toi Houston, and Jennifer Dixton, Trial Attorney, Anti-Trust Division.
The United States Attorney's Office emphasized that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The specific sentence in each case to be imposed upon conviction will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.