FORMER VERIZON WIRELESS ENGINEER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR FRAUD

     (The following press release from U.S. Department of Justice was received 
by e-mail. The sender verified the statement.) 
FORMER VERIZON WIRELESS NETWORK ENGINEER SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR 
MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FRAUD SCHEME 
Baxter Defrauded Verizon Wireless and Cisco Systems Out of Millions Through a 
Corrupt Scheme Involving Expensive Network Communications Equipment 
ATLANTA - Michael W. Baxter, 62, of Ball Ground, Georgia, was sentenced 
today by Senior United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester to serve four 
years in federal prison on charges of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to 
steal millions of dollars in high-value network communications equipment from 
Cisco Systems, Inc. and his employer, Verizon Wireless, while employed as a 
network engineer for Verizon between 2000 and 2010. 
"Telecommunications networks are a vital part of our infrastructure, 
supporting governments, health and emergency services, and businesses 
throughout this nation and the world," said United States Attorney Sally 
Quillian Yates.  "To accomplish his fraud, this defendant exploited a program 
designed to keep this critical infrastructure running uninterrupted:  Cisco's 
program for replacing expensive equipment on a moment's notice.  He also abused 
his insider access to Verizon's procurement system.  He funded a lavish 
lifestyle with his stolen funds, and has now earned himself several years in a 
federal prison." 
Baxter was sentenced to 4 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of 
supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,333,241.18 in restitution to Cisco 
Systems, and $462,828.00 in restitution to Verizon.  Baxter was indicted on the 
charges on December 6, 2011, and convicted on February 16, 2012, upon his plea 
of guilty. 
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other 
information presented in court: Between 1994 and 2010, Baxter was employed in 
Alpharetta, Georgia as a network engineer at the southeastern regional 
headquarters of Verizon Wireless and its predecessor.  During that time, 
Verizon Wireless purchased extended warranty contracts from Cisco Systems, 
Inc., the San Jose, California-based network communications and information 
technology equipment manufacturer, on certain network communications equipment 
that Verizon Wireless had purchased from Cisco Systems, such as processors and 
cards.  Some of the parts were valued at as much as $40,000 per item.  If a 
part malfunctioned, the warranty contracts required Cisco Systems to service 
the part or, if necessary, replace it in advance of receiving the 
malfunctioning part from Verizon Wireless, to avoid potential interruptions in 
Verizon Wireless' network.  Authorized Verizon Wireless employees could make 
service requests and order replacement parts through Cisco Systems' online 
customer service database. 
Beginning at least as early as 2001 and continuing until he was 
terminated by Verizon Wireless in May 2010, Baxter submitted hundreds of 
fraudulent service requests on behalf of Verizon Wireless via Cisco Systems' 
online customer service database. In response, Cisco Systems shipped millions 
of dollars in parts to Baxter at Verizon Wireless from various Cisco Systems 
distribution centers throughout the United States.  The service requests were 
fraudulent in that no parts needed to be replaced.  Instead of placing the 
replacement parts into service in Verizon Wireless' network, Baxter simply took 
them home and sold them to third-party re-sellers for his own profit.  The 
investigation also revealed that, apart from the Cisco Systems product warranty 
program, between 2000 and 2009 Baxter fraudulently caused Verizon Wireless to 
purchase nearly a half million dollars in expensive network communications 
equipment from Cisco Systems outright, which Baxter also took home and sold to 
third-party re-sellers for his own profit.  Baxter then used the illicit 
proceeds from the sale of this equipment to buy jewelry, cars, extravagant 
international travel, and other personal luxury goods and services, including 
multiple cosmetic surgeries for his girlfriend. 
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation. 
Assistant United States Attorney David M. Chaiken prosecuted the case. 
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney's Public Information 
Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov<mailto:USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov> or 
(404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's 
Office for the Northern District of Georgia is 
www.justice.gov/usao/gan<http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan>. 
(rml) NY
 
 
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