2011-08-31 "Verizon under pressure to return $800K in funds allegedly taken in Dept. of Education scam" by Ben Chapman
Telecom giant Verizon is under growing pressure to return $800,000 in profits allegedly obtained through accused Education Department swindler Willard Lanham.
Tuesday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer led a group of elected officials and advocates in calling on the company to return the funds.
"Any company that does business with our city on the scale of Verizon should be a model corporate citizen. You must return the money now," said Stringer.
Verizon is implicated in a city investigation against Lanham, who is accused of bilking the Education Department out of $3.6 million. Lanham was contracted to wire public schools for the Internet.
The telecom giant "facilitated" Lanham's theft, according to an April report by special schools investigator Richard Condon.
The swirling controversy didn't stop the Education Department from this month awarding Verizon a $120 million contract to provide phone and Internet service to city schools.
Verizon spokesman John Bonomo insisted that the company did not participate in Lanham's schemes and said it is willing to return any inappropriate profits.
Education Department spokeswoman Deidrea Miller said the agency is in talks to recover the funds.
"We are currently in discussions with Verizon regarding repayment of the overcharges," said Miller.