Federal Judge in El Paso Sentences New York Businessman for Role in Scheme to Defaud the El Paso Independent School District
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 31, 2013|
In El Paso yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo sentenced 65-year-old Joseph O’Hara of Albany, New York, to three years in federal prison for scheming to secure and maintain a lucrative El Paso Independent School District special education services contract, announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan.
In addition, Judge Montalvo ordered that O’Hara pay more than $2.89 million in restitution to EPISD and be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. Judge Montalvo also ordered that O’Hara report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons no later than December 3, 2013, to begin serving his sentence.
On May 10, 2013, O’Hara pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of honest services. By pleading guilty, O’Hara admitted that from February 2003 to October 2007, he conspired with his business partner Gary Lange of Haslett, Michigan, former El Paso Independent School District Associate Superintendent Tomas Gabaldon and former El Paso Independent School District Trustee Sal Mena to fraudulently secure and maintain a contract to provide software to the special education department of EPISD and to provide services to obtain federal and state reimbursement funds for special education programs. O’Hara’s company failed to provide working software to EPISD as required by the contract, and it submitted improper claims for reimbursement funds.
“The sentencing of Mr. O’Hara demonstrates the FBI’s unwavering commitment to target those individuals involved in public corruption in the El Paso community. Nothing erodes public trust more than those who conspire to illegally line their own pockets from taxpayer dollars,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan.
On August 22, 2012, Gabaldon was sentenced to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay over $2 million in restitution for his role in the scheme. Mena and Lange are still pending sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation along the U.S. Department of Education-Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Skillern, Donna Miller, and Laura Gregory prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.