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Alabama man pleads guilty to taking money from Duluth, other schools

A Montgomery, Ala., man pleaded guilty Thursday in that state to stealing nearly $900,000 intended for 20 school districts or private schools -- including one in Duluth -- in 13 states.

A Montgomery, Ala., man pleaded guilty Thursday in that state to stealing nearly $900,000 intended for 20 school districts or private schools -- including one in Duluth -- in 13 states.

Jonathan Michael Slaughter, 46, pleaded guilty to one felony count of mail fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama.

Slaughter owned and was the president of E-Rate Consulting Services, LLC (ECS) in Montgomery. ECS was in the business of assisting schools and libraries in their efforts to qualify for E-rate funding.

According to court records, the E-rate program was created by the Federal Communications Commission and is financed by assessments on telecommunications companies. The program provides affordable telecommunications services to eligible schools and libraries, especially those in rural and economically disadvantaged areas.

As part of ECS's arrangement with its clients, ECS would receive checks via mail, payable to ECS's clients, and ECS was supposed to forward the checks to the client. However, between May 2006 and January 2009, Slaughter converted a number of these checks to his own use. He would deposit checks payable to his clients into an ECS bank account and keep the money, which he used largely for personal expenses.

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According to the Department of Justice, Northwood Children's Services in Duluth lost $24,797 to Slaughter. In all, the 20 school districts or private schools lost $891,988.

Slaughter is free on a $25,000 unsecured bond pending sentencing later this year. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Related Topics: CRIMEEDUCATION
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