A Ball Ground man will serve four years in federal prison on wire fraud charges in connection with a scheme to steal millions of dollars of communications equipment from Cisco Systems and his employer, Verizon Wireless.
Michael W. Baxter, 62, of Ball Ground, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester today, Oct. 3, to the prison term for a scheme to steal millions of dollars in high-value network communications equipment while employed as a network engineer for Verizon between 2000 and 2010.
Baxter was sentenced to 4 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2.33 million in restitution to Cisco Systems, and $462,828 in restitution to Verizon. Baxter was indicted on the charges on Dec. 6, 2011, and convicted on Feb. 16, 2012, upon his plea of guilty, according to the release from the U.S. Attorney's office.
“He funded a lavish lifestyle with his stolen funds, and has now earned himself several years in a federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
According to Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Between 1994 and 2010, Baxter worked in Alpharetta as a network engineer at the southeastern regional headquarters of Verizon Wireless and its predecessor.
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. Baxter simply took the parts home – some of them worth as much as $40,000 – and sold them to third-party re-sellers for his own profit.
Between 2000 and 2009 Baxter also fraudulently caused Verizon Wireless to purchase nearly a half million dollars in expensive network communications equipment from Cisco Systems outright, which he also took home and sold to third-party re-sellers for his own profit.
Baxter then used the money to buy jewelry, cars, extravagant international travel, and other personal luxury goods and services, including multiple cosmetic surgeries for his girlfriend.