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U.S. Justice Department Announces Two More Guilty Pleas in E-rate Probes

The U.S. Department of Justice announced October 23 that two more individuals have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering involving the E-rate program. Each faces a possible maximum sentence of deportation and up to 20 years in jail.

The two men, Qasim Bokhari and Haider Bokhari, were indicted and arrested in the spring, and then subject to a superseding indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Milwaukee in late September. The two brothers, both citizens of Pakistan, were associated with a Virginia computer consulting company. A third brother, Raza Bokhari, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is a fugitive from justice.

According to court papers, in 2001, Qasim Bokhari and his company submitted E-rate applications on behalf of 21 schools in the Milwaukee and Chicago areas with funding requests totaling more than $16 million. The individuals eventually received more than $1.2 million for goods and services that were not provided to three of the schools.

According to the charges, the three men conspired to conduct numerous financial transactions involving the proceeds of the fraud to conceal and disguise the source of the proceeds. The transactions involved wiring more than $600,000 to Pakistan, purchasing a residence in Kenosha, WI, and acquiring several automobiles.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Communications Commission's Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

"The result in this case demonstrates the outstanding working relationship between the FCC Office of Inspector General and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice," said Thomas D. Bennett, assistant IG for Universal Service Fund oversight. "We remain committed to supporting the investigation and prosecution of individuals who defraud this program."

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