A federal judge on Jan. 21 sentenced a tearful former school system computer chief to three years in prison for defrauding the Jefferson County Board of Education, which serves Birmingham, Ala.
At the sentencing, Dennis L. Hutcheson, 45, wept as he apologized to the court, his family, and the school board. Hutcheson told U.S. District Judge James Hancock that despite being found guilty, he never intended to commit fraud.
“I will go to my grave knowing that I did not intentionally try to cheat anyone out of anything,” Hutcheson said.
A jury in October convicted Hutcheson of conspiring with two other men to double-bill the school board through a front man by selling a computer program he helped develop on board time. He also was convicted of laundering money in the process.
Hutcheson said he should have told the board about his role in developing the school accounting program the board purchased.
The jury convicted Hutcheson of conspiring with Marion L. Wallace, who was the largest computer vendor for the Birmingham-area schools, and with a former co-worker, George A. Wilson Jr., to sell the program and split $76,000 in profits.
Wallace billed the board through School Office Solutions, a company he said was created to conceal Hutcheson’s and Wilson’s involvement.
Wallace and Wilson pleaded guilty and testified against Hutcheson. Wilson was sentenced to six months of home detention and ordered to repay the board $25,341. Wallace received a six-month prison sentence, six months of home detention, and also was ordered to repay the board $25,341.
Hancock also ordered Hutcheson to pay $25,341 in restitution; $5,000 in fines, and a special fee of $450.