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Judge: Mark S. Norris
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (Shelby County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Memphis
Description: Memphis, Tennessee criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with conspiracy to defraud the
Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-rate program.
Charles A. “Chuck” Jones, 52, and Mark J. Whitaker, 51, both of Murray, Kentucky, were accused of conspiring to defraud the government.
The E- rate program is an FCC program that provides money to needy schools, often in rural areas of America,
for internet access and telecommunications services. The program has specific rules that forbid
service providers to the schools, such as Jones, from paying kickbacks to school officials and
consultants. The E-rate program also requires participating service providers to charge at least a
For approximately 10 years, Jones, owner of several Murray, Kentucky businesses, paid kickbacks to
an E-rate consultant working with the Missouri and Tennessee schools involved in this case. During
the conspiracy Jones, his employee Mark J. Whitaker, and the schools’ E-rate consultant, made false
statements and submitted fabricated documents regarding the required copays and the program’s fair
and open bidding process. Jones used the victim schools as a vehicle to fraudulently obtain money
from the E-rate program. The loss to the E-rate program was approximately $6.9 million.
Jones pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Whitaker pled guilty to misprision on wire
United States District Judge Mark S. Norris sentenced Jones to 18 months imprisonment, three years
of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $3.5 million in restitution.
Judge Norris sentenced Whitaker to one year of probation.
United States Attorney Kevin Ritz said, "Protection of federal grant programs that provide
needed services and equipment to our schools in West Tennessee is a top priority of this
office. When dishonest offenders conspire to defraud these programs for their own selfish gain,
they not only steal tax dollars, but also hurt local schools in the process. We will continue to
work with our federal partners to root out and expose such fraud against the government, to hold
offenders accountable, and to recover ill-gotten gains."
Sharon R. Diskin, Acting FCC Inspector General said, "These sentences send a strong message that
individuals who defraud a vital federal subsidy program, such as E-rate, will be held fully
accountable for their actions. I would like to thank our partners in the United States Attorney's
office for the Western District of Tennessee and the FBI for their unrelenting dedication to this
This case was investigated by the Federal Communications Commission - Office of Inspector General
and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
United States Attorney Kevin Ritz thanked former Assistant United States Attorney Murre Foster and
Assistant United States Attorney Tony Arvin who prosecuted this case,
as well as the law enforcement partners who investigated the case.
Outcome: Jones was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Whitaker was sentenced to one year of probation.