Feds: Consultant bilked Department of Education to finance lavish lifestyle
A former Department of Education consultant charged with ripping off the city for $3.6 million to bankroll a lavish lifestyle of high-end cars and houses surrendered to authorities Thursday.
Willard “Ross” Lanham, 57, was hired to help wire the city’s schools with Internet. But as part of his scheme, he would convince subcontractors to charge the city at higher rates than necessary and then pocket the difference, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.
Lanham posted a $250,000 bail Thursday and reportedly declined to comment as he left court.
He’s accused of using some of the money to buy a Corvette, a Porsche, a Cadillac Escalade and a Mercedes-Benz and building three ritzy houses on Long Island. Reports say he’s locked in a divorce with wife Laura Lanham, the founder of the racy website, “The Housewives Next Door.”
Lanham is charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the mail fraud count and 10 years in prison for the theft count.