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December 19, 2013

Ex-IT director gets year in prison

LAWRENCE — The former director of the city’s Information Technology Department will spend a year in federal prison and was ordered to pay $465,000 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to cheating Lawrence out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money aimed at improving municipal computer and communications systems.

Bryan J. Cahoon, 53, of Dover, N.H., pleaded guilty this summer to felony theft and fraud but was not formally sentenced until Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boston.

In addition to $465,000 restitution, Cahoon was sentenced to a year in federal prison which he will start serving on Jan. 27, according to court records.

Following his release, Cahoon will be on supervised probation for a year.

Under federal law, Cahoon faced 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $800,000.

Cahoon worked for more than four years for the IT department as an employee and later a consultant. He engaged in “a scheme to steal” federal money from early 2008 until late 2009 while working for the city. The FBI’s fraud investigation of Cahoon was based on his activities while he was in charge of the IT department under former Mayor Michael Sullivan.

In a sentencing memorandum filed on Monday, federal prosecutor William Bloomer said Cahoon defrauded the city of between $400,000 to $1 million.

“He stole this money from funds earmarked for technological improvements to the city’s deteriorating libraries and schools. He accomplished this scheme by exploiting a position of trust as the city’s IT director — awarding city contracts to his friends and using those contractual hired to perform work for his own private companies,” Bloomer wrote.

Cahoon, he said, employed a “complex financial ‘shell game’” steering city contracts to a specific company and then subcontracting work back to his own companies.

“Ultimately, Cahoon profited nicely from this thievery, the City of Lawrence paid twice for work done by Cahoon’s companies. To add insult to injury, much of the work on city projects that Cahoon had subcontracted was abandoned and left in a state of partial completion — leaving residents of one of the state’s poorest communities in the lurch,” Bloomer wrote.

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