An electrical contractor based in Fresno, Calif., has pleaded guilty and agree to pay $3.3 million in fines and restitution for rigging bids on a U.S. government program designed to help schools and libraries in poor areas connect to the internet, PC World reports. Howe Electric pleaded guilty June 18 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, to charges that the company engaged in two conspiracies to rig bids to two Fresno-area schools, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said. The bids were part of the e-Rate program, which allows schools and libraries to receive money for cabling, internet backbone equipment, and monthly internet and telephone service fees. The conspiracies began in 1998 and 1999 and continued into 2001. Howe Electric entered into agreements with former education consultant Judy N. Green, in which Howe was awarded contracts for the e-Rate projects at the West Fresno Elementary School District and the W.E.B. DuBois Charter School in exchange for awarding subcontracts to other vendors, the DOJ said. The other vendors had the capability to bid against Howe Electric on the projects but had agreed with Green not to compete in exchange for the award of the subcontracts. Green was convicted and sentenced in March to serve seven and a half years in prison for her role in the conspiracies…

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