A federal judge ruled Tuesdaythat the case against former Bibb Schools Superintendent Romain Dallemand, Progressive Consulting Technologies Inc, its owner Isaac Culver, Comptech Computer Technologies, their president and CEO Allen J. Stephens III, Pinnacle/CSG Inc. and its president Cory Mcfarlane will move forward without any further delay.
The Bibb County school system accuses Dallemand of conspiring with assistants and vendors to defraud the system of more than $7 million.
The school board says that includes paying $3.7 million for 15,000 computers that were unusable.
Culver’s attorney Robert Luskin had previously filed a request with the court to stay the proceedings against Culver because a criminal indictment was returned against Culver, Dave Carty and their company Progressive Technologies Inc.
The Bibb School board accuses Dallemand, Culver, his company and others of fraud concerning a 2012 purchase of 15,000 NComputing devices that were unusable.
They came without monitors, keyboards or necessary equipment.
Luskin argued that his client would be forced to take the 5th [Amendment] against self-incrimination when deposed in the civil case.
The fact that Culver would take the 5th would allow an adverse inference that he did in fact do the act as alleged.
U.S. District Judge Marc Tredwell noted that the indictment against Culver was very specific and it appeared that the prosecutors had documentation in hand to support the allegations.
Thomas Joyce, attorney for the Bibb County School District, indicated that there were several witnesses that would testify and that the system had already received numerous banking records.
Pinnacle lawyers joined in the motion to stay while, Dallemand’s lawyer, never made a comment during the proceeding.
Before ruling, the court weighed the defendants’ rights together with the school districts interest.
Judge Marc Treadwell denied the request to stay the case, citing the case involving a lot of tax payer money, egregious conduct, and a strong interest to peruse the truth by the public prior to making his decision.
Judge Treadwell also heard arguments from both sides regarding documents that have been subpoenaed by the school system.
Thomas Joyce argued that in order to adequately represent his clients, he would need to be able to share the information with them.
The information in question is copies of checks indicating who may have received payments after Culver received the FedEx and wired funds.
The school system’s lawyer identified 16 people or entities that they believe may have participated.
The judge ruled that private personal information concerning nonparties would be for "attorney eyes only", although information directly related to the case could be shared with the school board members under a confidentiality order.
Isaac Culver and a representative for Progressive will give a deposition within 60 days and the remaining scheduling order set by the parties shall remain in place -- this order would include taking the deposition of Dallemand.
Joyce noted to the court from their review of records, 16 other entities could potentially be added as defendants in this case or sued separately.
School board member Lester Miller says because of today's ruling, they can dig deeper into documents and records.
“Some potential more defendants are out there that may have gotten money or participated or aided and abetted in the process,” Miller said. “As far as the civil action that we filed against them, if we can locate those people, then the school board will have to decided what if anything to do with that situation or whether or not…there’s a reasonable prospect of returning some of the money to tax payers we believe was misappropriated.”
Dallemand did not appear in court Tuesday morning. No future hearing has been set yet.
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