Janesville76.9°

Software scheme prompts lawsuit

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Ted Sullivan
November 21, 2009
— The Janesville School District has filed a lawsuit against its former information technology manager, accusing him of racketeering and fraud in a scheme to profit from the district.

The district filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Brandon M. Keirns, 31, Milwaukee, Shannon Fermanian, Scottsdale, Ariz., and the four companies they are suspected of using to sell $215,000 in overpriced software to the district.


Keirns is accused of transferring about $104,000 from one of the company’s accounts to his personal bank account to buy a condominium in Milwaukee for more than $500,000.


The district has asked for a lien against the condo to recover money it lost. It also wants money for damages, attorney fees and the cost of its investigation.


According to the lawsuit:


Keirns is the managing agent of De Rekening Group, Error Help Group and Mithrax Networking. Fermanian does business under the name Avontur.


Keirns and Fermanian are suspected of using the companies in a conspiracy to defraud the district.


While employed with the district, Keirns was expected to make recommendations for equipment it should buy. He was expected to choose the most adequate, cost-effective equipment.


Keirns recommended the district buy networking software from Avontur. Keirns arranged for the school district to pay $18,000 a month for the software.


From January 2008 to November 2008, the school district paid more than $187,000 to Avontur. The district could have bought the software for $26,000 a year if Keirns had informed the district of other options.


Keirns also bought the school district anti-spam software called Mailmax for $1,562 a month. Keirns arranged for the district to buy the software from De Rekening Group without disclosing his interest in the company.


Error Help Group and Mithrax Networking also were part of the scheme.


“Such purchases were not in the best interests of the school district and were instead intended by the defendants to unlawfully enrich Keirns,” the lawsuit states. “The school district reasonably relied upon such acts of false representation to its detriment by incurring unnecessary costs for computer software.”


Keirns was hired in December 2007. He resigned in November 2008 after a computer virus harmed district computers for weeks.


In a criminal case, Keirns is charged with two felony counts of being a public employee entering into a contract with private interests. State statutes prohibit public employees from arranging contracts for their employer that benefit themselves.


Fermanian has not been charged in the case.


If convicted, Keirns faces a maximum three years and six months in prison and a $10,000 fine for each charge.


Keirns appeared in Rock County Court on Wednesday for an initial appearance. He remains free on a signature bond. His next scheduled court appearance is Jan. 12.



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